LEGO is one of the greatest toys for kids. These little plastic blocks help with language development, problem solving, cause and effect, mechanical skills, fine motor skills and so much more. I have always been a bit of a history buff (it was my major at University before I made the switch to psychology and then speech-language pathology) so I love learning about the history of various toy manufacturers. And the story of LEGO is quite fascinating.
The History Of LEGO For Kids
Let’s start where it all began. I will keep this history lesson as simple as possible so that you can review it with your kids!
1932 – LEGO Is Now 84 Years Old
The LEGO Group was officially founding in 1932 by a Danish carpenter named Ole Kirk Kristiansen. LEGO remained a family run business until 2004. Ole passed the company down to his son Godtfred Kirk Christiansen. After Godtfred it was owned by Kjeled Kirk Kristiansen. The first non-family member to run the LEGO business is Jørgen Vig Knudstorp who took over in 2004.
DID YOU KNOW? – The name LEGO came about from the first two letters in each of the Danish words “leg godt” meaning “play well”. It was later discovered that “Lego” can be loosely interpreted as “I assemble” or “I put together” in Latin.
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1934 – LEGO Is The Official Company Name
It wasn’t until 1934 that the company’s official name became “LEGO”. At this time they were still producing wooden products such as stepladders, stools, ironing boards as well as wooden toys. Ole’s son Godtfred starts working in the factory at the age of 12.
1935 – First Toy Branded With LEGO Name Is Manufactured
And it wasn’t LEGO Bricks. It was a wooden duck.
1942 – LEGO Factory Burns Down
But the production of wooden toys resumes quickly.
1949 – Automatic Binding Bricks Enter Production
Automatic Binding Bricks doesn’t sound like a fun toy. Luckily the people at the LEGO Group soon realized that and these blocks are what we now lovingly refer to as LEGO. The first Automatic Binding Bricks only came in two sizes, 4 studs and 8 studs. These were sold exclusively in Denmark.
1950 – First LEGO For Kindergarten Kids
LEGO produces 3 sets aimed at 5 year old’s.
1951 – First LEGO Movie
The first LEGO film is shot. It was in black and white and had no sound.
1953 – Time For A Name Change
Automatic Binding Bricks are now officially called LEGO Bricks (LEGO Mursten in Danish).
1955 – LEGO Sets Are Born
“LEGO System of Play” is launched. There are now 28 sets and 8 vehicles.
1958 – LEGO Patent
The LEGO bricks that we know and love today were patented on January 28, 1958. These bricks are still compatible with the bricks you can buy today.
1959 – LEGO Expands
LEGO is now available in Germany, Sweden, Britain, France and Belgium.
1960 – Another Fire Strikes
The company’s inventory of wooden toys has been destroyed. However, Godtfred decides that the company’s line of plastic toys is strong enough to leave the production of wooden toys behind. LEGO is now also available in Finland and The Netherlands.
1961 – Further Expansion
LEGO is now becoming available in North America (Canada and US) via the Samsonite Group. LEGO now has 50 sets and 15 vehicles and various individual pieces.
1962 – LEGO Wheels Are Launched (after having been worked on since 1958)
1966 – LEGO Is Now Sold In 42 Countries (including the Middle East)
1969 – LEGO Duplo Is Born
Duplo blocks are meant for children under 5. Upon launch, they are sold internationally.
1970’s – Further Expansion and LEGOLAND
Lego expands to even more countries including the Far East, Eastern Europe and Australia. Various LEGOLAND’s open for business. LEGO mini-figurines appeared on the scene in 1978.
1987 – LEGO Logo
The brick logo is developed.
1992 – Guinness Book Of World Records
A record is set for railway line construction when a railroad made with 545 meters of LEGO rails with three model locomotives is built.
Swedish television shows the world’s largest LEGO Castle being built. Over 400,000 LEGO bricks were used to build the 4.45 m x 5.22 m castle.
1995 – Godtfred Kirk Kristiansen Passes Away
1996 – Website Launched
Lego.com is now on the World Wide Web.
2008 – LEGO Anniversary
The LEGO brick is 50 years old!
2009 – LEGO Group Is Now Fifth Largest Toy Manufacturer In The World (for sales)
2010 – LEGO Universe Launches (online game)
2012 – Welcome LEGO Friends!
The new product line “LEGO Friends” is launched and aimed at girls ages 5-8 to get them interested in LEGO. In my opinion, this was probably a move to keep up with all the other toy manufactures who have started making “boy” and “girl” toys. Hopefully we will move away from this soon. Toys should be marketed to boys and girls equally. Each child will have different interests, not always what adults think a girl or boy should play with.
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2014 – The LEGO Movie
The LEGO Movie premiered in several different countries!
2015 And Beyond
LEGO continues to grow worldwide and new products are revealed on a regular basis. LEGO products are now available in over 140 countries!
*NOTE: For more detailed information regarding LEGO’s history check out Wikipedia or LEGO’s website. The history I have provided marks some important points that children might be interested in but does not cover the entire history of LEGO.
A Few Fascinating Facts About LEGO!
Just in case you are craving more information about LEGO, check out some of these cool facts!
- According to various online sources, each person worldwide owns an average of 87 LEGO bricks.
- Since production of LEGO minifigures first began in 1978, over 4 billion have been made!
- In 2009, a man from Surrey, Great Britain, built the worlds first human size LEGO house using 3.3 million bricks! Inside the house you will find a bed as well as a working shower and toilet all made of LEGO!
- LEGO Duplo can connect with the regular LEGO bricks even though most LEGO Duplo bricks are up to 8 times the size of the standard LEGO brick. I was not aware of this!
- The world’s tallest LEGO tower was built in Milan between June 17 and 21, 2015. The tower is 35 meters tall and approximately 500,000 bricks were used!
- Some artists use LEGO and only LEGO as their medium. Nathan Sawaya from New York was the first artist to bring LEGO to the world of art.
- The largest commercially produced LEGO set is the Taj Mahal. It has over 5900 pieces!
- A 12 year old (Shubham Banerjee) from California made a braille printer using his LEGO MINSTORMS EV3 set! Read the full story here.
Do you and/or your kids love LEGO? Please share your own or your child’s fondest LEGO memory in the comments below!