Lego History

Learn the history of America's favority toy. Lego is known around the world as a standard toy for all ages - but where did this versatile and creative toy come from?

We grew up with the familiar blocks that gave our imagination room to soar; building towers and castles and wagons with little people. Generation after generation have been entranced by this easy yet intricate toy that lets children and adults both create anything and everything. But with over 200 millions sets being sold a year in over 100 countries, the question remains - where did Lego actually come from?

Our story begins in 1932 where Ole Kirk Christiansen, master carpenter and joiner, establishes a small business in the village of Billund in Denmark. His company manufactures stepladders, ironing boards... and wooden toys.

In 1934 the company adopts the name LEGO for their products, formed from the Danish words "LEg GOdt" or "play well". Later on it's realized that in Latin the word means "I study" or "I put together"; an ironic coincidence that follows the toy through the decades.

The small firm of only a dozen employees continues to turn out the popular toy - but in 1942 a tragedy strikes - the entire LEGO factory burns to the ground. Unwilling to give in, the factory is rebuilt and the assembly line restarts soon thereafter.

Not too long after that in 1947 the LEGO company is the first in Denmark to buy a plastic injection-moulding machine for making toys, running ahead of the competition and setting itself up as an enterprise dedicated to the toy business.

At this point there are no LEGO bricks as we know them today - the factory produced approximately 200 different varieties of plastic and wooden toys - but the predecessor of the familiar brick was created under the name of Automatic Binding Bricks; available only in Denmark at this time.

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