The Rubik's cube is still the worlds best selling toy and puzzle having sold over 350 million units since it was released for sale to market. The underlying concepts of the 3x3 Rubik's cube is the design basis for all speed cubes you see today and the evolution of solving the cube with various methods since its invention has ultimately allowed for the creation of 'speedcubing' as an actual competitive activity.
The iconic cube was invented by the Hungarian sculptor and professor of Architecture - Erno Rubik - in 1974 to provide the structural problem of moving the cubes parts independently without the entire mechanism falling apart (yes, 'popping' was an actual thing from the very first cube). He had only discovered that he had actually created a puzzle once he moved the various parts of the cube and it became 'scrambled' - and only from hence our beautiful puzzle was born. It was initially called the 'magic cube', but was renamed after its inventor as the "Rubik's cube" when ideal toys registered for trademark in 1979 and the first Rubik's cubes where put on sale in May of 1980.
By 1981 the Rubik's cube had taken the world by storm and it is estimated that over 200m units were sold between 1981 and 1983 alone. The Guinness World Book of Records organised the worlds first speedcubing competition in March 1981 and on June 5, 1982, the first world championship was held in Budapest, Hungary where American Minh Thai won with a single solve time of 22.95 seconds and this record is generally considered as the First World Record of the Rubik's Cube. That was unfortunately also the last speedcubing competition for a very long time...
Thankfully, in 2003 the World Cubing Association (WCA) was founded and in August of the same year the first WCA Speedcubing event took place at a science centre in Canada. During that competition the World Record was broken twice, first to 16.71, (Dan Knights) then to 16.53 by Jess Bonde.
Later in 2004, Shotaro Makisumi reduced the World Record by over four seconds to 12.11 and people wondered if the 10 second barrier would ever be broken. This honour of breaking the 10s barrier was finally bestowed upon Thibaut Jacquinot who at the 2007 Spanish Open 2007 set the new World Record as 9.86 seconds.
In 2008, Erik Akkersdijk nearly broke the sub-7 barrier by solving the cube in 7.08 seconds and his record stood for 854 days until November 2010 - the longest standing record since Minh Thai's original 1982 record.
However in November of 2010, Australian Speedcuber and former brand ambassador of speedcube.com.au - Feliks Zemdegs - solved the Rubik's cube in 7.03 seconds and on the same day he broke the 7 second barrier by setting a famous world record of 6.77 seconds . He also set a new average World record of 9.21 seconds (average being calculated from the best of five solves) earlier in the in 2010, as well as several other records during the same year as he burst onto the speedcubing scene. Throughout the duration of 2011, he broke the record 4 times, to 6.65 (which he did twice), 6.24, 6.18 and finally, breaking the 6 seconds barrier to 5.66. Feliks also won the Rubik's World Championship in 2013 and 2015 - the only speedcuber who has ever gone back to back in World Championships.
Feliks Zemdegs and Mats Valk at speedcube.com.au store - Dec '16.
In November 2015 the 5 second barrier was finally broken when Lucas Etter set a new world record of 4.95s at the River Hill Fall Speedcubing competition held in Clarksville, Maryland (USA), then improved in November 2016 by Mats Valk to 4.74s at a competition held in Indonesia and then Feliks Zemdegs broke the world record again in December 2016 at the POPS open in Melbourne, Australia with a 4.73s record solve - also the first world record set by a new brand of speedcube - a prototype of the now very famous Gan Cube.
Here is a list of the current best Speedcuber's in the world and their respective times.