90 years of play

June 1, 2022

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From a small carpenter's workshop to a modern global enterprise that is now one of the world's largest toy manufacturers. Lego® has come a long way in the past 90 years.

How it all started

The LEGO Group was founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen. The company has passed from father to son and is now owned by Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, a grandchild of the founder. The global economic crisis forces carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen to create new easy-to-sell products. The beginnings of the LEGO Group begin with wooden toys, such as cars, planes and yo-yos. Ole Kirk Kristiansen also produces ladders, ironing boards, Christmas tree stands and other items for everyday use. It is a difficult start for the company and Ole enlists the help of his family.

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LEg GOdt

At the end of 1935 Ole Kirk Kristiansen decided to further focus his company on the toy production he had started in 1932. This decision means that he has to find a new name for the company. The company changes its name after Ole Kirk Kristiansen reportedly launches a contest among his employees to find a good name for the company. The winner of the contest (who can claim the prize of a bottle of homemade wine from Ole Kirk Kristiansen) is ... Ole Kirk Kristiansen himself, who played with the two Danish words LEG GODT (meaning Play Well) to come up with the name LEGO. The new name is officially used from January 1936. The intention of the name is to represent quality and the right of children to play joyfully. Ole Kirk Kristiansen later wrote about dedicating his life to toy manufacturing: "It was only on the day that I said to myself 'either you drop your old craft or you put the toy out of your mind' that I began to see the long-term consequences. And the decision turned out to be the right one." In a few years, Ole Kirk Kristiansen laid the foundations of what would become one of the world's largest toy manufacturers.

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Automatic Binding Bricks

In 1949, the plastic department of the LEGO Group produced several toys. Among them, the company's first plastic building blocks, marketed under the name Automatic Binding Bricks. Giving the toy an English name is a tribute to the Allies who liberated Europe and ended the Second World War in 1945. Currently, the bricks, like all of the company's other toys, are sold exclusively in Denmark.

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The patent

During a meeting on 23 January 1958, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen and head of the German sales office Axel Thomsen discussed possible solutions to the stability problem mentioned in the feedback from the markets. Godtfred draws various solutions on a piece of paper, including the tubes we all know today. The combination of studs and tubes creates clutch force. Coupling force creates stability and endless possibilities for combining stones. With the new stud and tube principle, it is possible to combine six 2x4 bricks in 915,103,765 different ways. After the invention of the tube solution, Godtfred Kirk is worried. The ingenious interlocking principle must be well protected. On 28 January 1958 at 1.58 pm the LEGO Group filed a patent application for "a toy construction element". The LEGO® brick as we know it today was born.

"Our idea is to make toys that prepare the child for life - they capture the imagination and develop the creative urge and the pleasure of creating that are the driving force in every human being." This quote from the second generation LEGO® owner Godtfred Kirk Christiansen about the LEGO System dates back to 1955. The LEGO System is one of the cornerstones of the LEGO Group and the process of developing this groundbreaking idea helped the company to have a clearer direction and a better sense of their identity.

Source: LEGO® Group

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