The LEGO Company just celebrated its 80th birthday a few days ago. Can you believe that? LEGO has been around for 80 long years! 😀
LEGO put together a nice little video to summarize the long history of the company from its humble beginnings of making wooden toys in a carpenter’s shop, to the revolutionary step of switching to plastic, and gradually developing the famous interlocking LEGO bricks of today.
Watching the video made me appreciate more the amount of sweat and tears that goes into creating a successful product like LEGO. Not one step of LEGO’s history was easy. These days, when we expect instant gratification, and success with little effort, the legacy of Ole Kirk Christiansen is a reminder of the true power and durability of traditional values and old fashioned hard work. At least I like to look at it that way. 🙂
It is very tragic that the founder never had the chance to see the tremendous success of the company. However his spirit lives on and continues to guide his descendants to keep to the standard of “only the best is good enough”. Some highlights from the history of the LEGO Company mentioned in the video:
- In 1932 Ole Kirk Christiansen a respected carpenter in Billund, Denmark fell into hard times due to the Great Depression and the loss of his wife. Instead of making furniture and other large items like he used to, he began focusing on small wooden toys such as piggy banks, pull toys, cars and trucks to keep his company afloat. The business was not very profitable, but local farmers traded food for the toys, allowing Ole Kirk to at least feed himself and his four sons.
- In 1934 Ole Kirk was looking for a name for his new toy company. He came up with “LEGO”, a self-made contraction from the Danish phrase “leg godt”, meaning “play well”. Later the LEGO Group discovered that “LEGO” can be loosely interpreted as “I put together” or “I assemble” in Latin. A nice coincidence…
- In 1942 the woodworking shop burned down and Ole Kirk had to rebuild the LEGO factory. Sales gradually picked up again and the company started to do better.
- In 1946 following World War II, plastics became available in Denmark, and LEGO purchased a plastic injection-molding machine, starting to make various plastic toys. Ole Kirk also obtained samples of some interlocking plastic bricks produced by another toy company, Kiddicraft. LEGO began producing similar toy bricks, calling them “Automatic Binding Bricks”. These first LEGO bricks were manufactured from cellulose-acetate, a harder, more rigid plastic. (You can still find these old LEGO bricks on BrickLink and eBay as collector’s items.)
- In 1954 the LEGO System of Play was developed by Ole Kirk’s son Godtfred, introducing the first LEGO Town Plan. This was a huge breakthrough for the company that allowed LEGO to expand to other countries as well. Also, the LEGO bricks were improved with tubes inside for better “stickiness” a.k.a. clutch-power.
- In 1958 Ole Kirk passed away and his son Godtfred inherited leadership of the company. After another fire that destroyed the company’s wooden toy section, Godtfred decided to focus on the LEGO System of Play only. (His brothers started another wooden toy company called Biloflix.)
- In 1963 the material used to create LEGO bricks, cellulose-acetate, was dropped in favor of the more stable acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS plastic), which is still used today. ABS is non-toxic, less prone to discoloration and warping, and is also more resistant to heat, acids, salt, and other chemicals than cellulose-acetate.
- In 1964 Billund airport was opened to allow the LEGO Company to continue expanding their sales to other countries.
- In 1968 the first LEGOLAND opened with 600,000 guests in its first year.
- Today the LEGO Company is run by the third generation of the Christiansen family.
Now the LEGO brand has fans all over the world – both adults who grew up with LEGO bricks and continuing to enjoy the hobby, and new generations of children who are just getting introduced to it. Hopefully the LEGO Company will continue to grow and expand, while maintaining the tradition of excellent quality envisioned and enforced by its founder. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LEGO! 😀
Feel free to leave your birthday wishes to LEGO in the comment section below! You might also like to share your own experiences; how you got introduced to LEGO, why do you like the hobby, and where do you hope the company will be by the time it reaches 100! 😉
And you may also like to check out the following related articles:
Happy Birthday LEGO!
Happy Birthday to you, you live in a factory you look all different colors Happy Birthday to LEGO! 😆 Ya I may need to work on that song a little more…
LOL! If you would work out a birthday song that would be awesome! 😆
Happy birthday LEGO! The animation is pretty good on this movie.
Hey, Luca, long time no see! 😉
HAPPY BIRTHDAY THANKS FOR IMPROVING THIS WORLD
It’s such an awesome video!
Yeah, I really like it too. It does give a good summary of LEGO’s history and it has a nice old-fashioned way of narrating too. 🙂
Looking back, I still remember my first set: 1981, 6691-1, Red Cross Helicopter 😀 I saw it in a Lego catalogue and I wanted it so bad I couldnt rest til I got it. Those were the days when there was only City and Space Lego (and maybe the very first signs of Lego knights). Now my table is overrun by Orcs’es and castles 😉 I never knew back then just what that little Lego helicopter would be the start of 😀 Once you love Lego you’ll always love it. Its universal. Happy Birthday Lego, and here’s to many more! 😀
Nick Nox, I always like when people share these stories of how they got into LEGO. Little helicopters are especially addictive; they are cute, buildable and swooshable. What more would anyone want? 😉
That’s funny – I think my first complete set was a helecopter too. . . 😆
I saw this movie on Saturday while making breakfast. So cool!!! Gotta love the story.
Happy B-day! I love the part when he tries to come up with a name for the company!
Happy Birthday Lego…
the last picture, that town plan, road board, I used to have one of those, any one got any better pictures of the board in all its glory?
Nick, how about these: https://www.bricklink.com/catalogList.asp?q=town%20plan
was that a true story?
Admin… um, do you know you just put like part of my article up? just some of the info?
Taryn, we can have lots of articles on LEGO’s history. Yours is approaching the topic from a different angle, so it will be just fine. I’m thinking of publishing your article on Wednesday. 😉
Happy 80th birthday LEGO. You made many children young and old very happy. “play well” forever.
I really like the video, very informative. 🙂
happy b day lego
HAPPY B DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
LEGO cuasso (i dont know how to spell it) is sooooooo stinking amazing!! i just was looking at the sets they wanna make lego product! and i totally loved the invisible hand from clone wars!
Jay, yes CUUSOO is a great idea! And if you ever come up with anything awesome yo cna post it too! And if you get 10,000 votes your idea may become a real LEGO set too! 😉
i mean episode 3 of star wars not clone wars 😳
My first Lego sets I had were old Pirate sets. I was too little too really play with them, though, but I still remember feeding the LEGO sharks tiny peiceslike studs and 1×1 bricks. 🙂 Because I was too little to play with them, my Mom gave them away. (She regrets that decision now XD) But later, when I was older, she gave me some Belville sets, which I liked because I was one of those girls who liked fairies. XD As I got older, though, and went to the LEGO store in the Glendale Galleria Mall, I realized I didn’t want those fairy toys, but wanted to have sets with actual minifigures in them. That was also about the time I got into Star Wars, the Clone Wars. So for Christmas, I asked for the 7751 Ahsoka’a Starfighter and Vulture Droid. Unfortunately, my Uncle, (who was ‘assigned’ by my mom to get me that gift XD) couldn’t find it in stores, so instead got me the Space Police 5973 Hyperspeed Pursuit. I was sad I didn’t get the Ahsoka set, becuase the Space Police set didn’t have a girl minifig in it, but once I started building, I was in love with LEGO. It was the first set I built by myself, since I just asked my Mom or Dad to build the other sets I had before, all I wanted to do was play with them!
So now, because of Pirates, Belville, and Space Police, I am a LEGO Freak and have a whole city of LEGOs sitting on my special ‘LEGO Table’ behind me, including my first Space Police minifigure, (who is about to be eaten by a Ninjago Ice Dragon attacking the city XD)
Thanks for reading my stupidly long introduction to LEGO story!
Ahsoka, thanks for sharing! That is a wonderful story! It is always nice to meet other girls who are into LEGO! Play well! 😀
HAPPPPY LATE B DAY!!!
I first started playing with lego’s only about 5 years ago when my mom and dad got me the LEGO® Large Brick Box Item: 6166 Ages:4+ Pieces:405 i was so happy then a few days later at my party my friend got me the power miners stone chopper next thing i knew i had all the power miners and had a lot of ninjago happy b day lego i love you
Happy late Bday LEGO!
I MISSED THE LEGO BIRTHDAY!!! D:
I finally came up with a birthday song for Lego:
Happy birthday to you
You’re not very new
You look like a brick
and your made of plastic!
LOL! Love it! 😀