The Orb Puzzle came out in the early 1980’s riding on the popularity wave of the Rubik’s Cube, though I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you’ve never heard of it before. Â The Orb was the puzzles US name, but in the UK it was also known as Orb-It.
It consists of a silver plastic sphere that has four rings of coloured beads running parallel to each other. Â The top ring contains eight blue beads, the next twenty green beads, the next ring twenty red beads and the bottom ring eight orange beads. Â The beads can be pushed around the channel of the ring.
So far not very puzzling! Â However the ball is split in two, and the two hemispheres rotate through 45 degree increments. Â This has the effect of joining the rings together into either a single continuous ring that snakes its way around the sphere (as pictured), or two individual loops, thus allowing the beads to be mixed up. Â Obviously your task is to get the beads back into their original configuration.
I was given an Orb by some relatives who went on holiday to America and bought me one back as a gift, and I personally think I prefer it as a puzzle to the Rubik’s Cube. Â Whilst it could be difficult to get the beads to run freely when the sphere was in the never ending chain configuration, the puzzle itself was a bit easier to solve than the Rubik’s Cube, which meant it was less likely to be retired to the back of the cupboard in a muddled up state.
If you have one of these knocking about and want a solution to get it all nicely organised again then pay a visit to Jaap’s Puzzle Pages, which has details on loads of puzzles beside the Orb.