Building a World of Fun: the History of Lego®
Founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Christianson in Denmark, The LEGO Group began a tradition of play that has touched the lives of millions of children across the world. Children in more than 130 countries use their imagination and creativity to build everything from castles to robots with these well-loved construction toys. And LEGOs aren't just for toddlers and school children. They are also LEGO products for teenagers, as well as adults who are young at heart and still enjoy the fun of building whatever their imagination designs.
The brand name LEGO is an abbreviation for two Danish words, â¬Åleg godt. Translated, the phrase means â¬Åplay well. However, while LEGOs are great fun for kids who enjoy playtime, the toys are also quite educational. In fact, LEGOs are often used in the classroom. The toys are stimulating, engaging and even challenging, and great tools for developing motor and problems solving skills. Children become engineers and architects as they build bridges and buildings, and the sense of accomplishment they feel once they complete their project is priceless. For this reason, parents and educators are also huge fans of the LEGO brand.
The LEGO Group first entered the market by manufacturing wooden toys. In 1947, the company purchased its first plastic injection-moulding machine and by 1949 was producing approximately 200 different types of plastic and wooden models. One of the models was the Automatic Binding Bricks, which is a forerunner of the LEGO bricks children all over the world play with today.
The 1950s was a groundbreaking decade for the company. In 1953, the Automatic Binding Bricks were renamed â¬ÅLEGO Mursten or LEGO bricks, and in 1954 the name was trademarked. Just four years later the LEGO brick model that we know and love today was launched. The following year the company launched the â¬ÅLEGO System of Play which would prove to be a revolutionary concept. The company began exporting its product to countries outside of Denmark and product development began to soar.
A number of popular LEGO toys emerged in the following years including LEGO model car and the LEGO train. By 1966 the company's product range was comprised of 57 sets and 25 vehicles, and 706 million LEGO pieces were produced in that year alone! In 1967 the LEGO DUPLO was launched. Initially a big brick designed for children with small hands, the LEGO DUPLO became an ideal model for children aged 2-6 years and was noted as a safe toy that couldn't be swallowed.
In 1968, LEGOLAND opened and attracted 625,000 visitors during its first season, which was a testimony to the success of the company and the brand. For the next several decades the company would continue to live up to the tradition of innovation and excellence that it had established. The company would develop more groundbreaking products, expand to countries all over the world, and add new departments including the Educational Products Department, which would later be called â¬ÅLEGO Dacta.
The LEGO Group has received a number of awards and honors over the course of the company's history. In 1986 the company was granted the title of â¬ÅPurveyor to Her Majesty the Queen on the birthday of the H.M. Queen Margrethe of Denmark. The company has also received the honor of â¬ÅToy of the Century twice by Fortune Magazine and by the British Association of Toy Retailers. And just this year, the third generation of the LEGO family, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the LEGO brick.
Today, the LEGO Group is still headquartered in Denmark and now produces 2,400 different types of LEGO brick shapes. The company's products have inspired other colorful, plastic construction toys such as Bristle Blocks, Krinkles and the popular Stickle Bricks, created by U.K. based toy maker Denys Fisher. The LEGO Group is the fifth largest toy manufacturer in the world based on sales and continues to be recognized as a leading innovator in the industry.