The LEGO® Story – 80 Years of Toy Making

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Lego Red Brick

“Used by permission,® 2012 The LEGO Group”

20 August 2012, – It all started in 1932 when Danish joiner and carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen began making wooden toys which evolved to what it is today after passing it down from to his son and eventually his grandson Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen and his children today.

80 years later, LEGO® celebrates its 80th birthday with a rather nostalgic animated video on youtube which looks back its history.   The video was uploaded on 10 August 2012 and at time of publishing this article there were already 1,767,474 views.

THE LEGO HISTORY BY YEARS

The Lego Group Motto

The LEGO Group Motto “Only the best is good enough” in English dates back to 1932 and is still a core LEGO value. “Used by permission,® 2012 The LEGO Group”

1932 – Master carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen started making wooden toys

1950 – Godtfred Kirk Christiansen took over as Managing Director of the LEGO Group after his father Ole Kirk Kristiansen

1955 – The LEGO System of Play was introduced together with the first “Play and Learn” Concept, emphasising the importance of learning through play.

1958 – The LEGO brick was launched with a new coupling system, laying the foundation for the toy of the century.   LEGO filed a  patent application for the building unit with the Danish Patent and Trademark office in Copenhagen.

1966 – The first LEGO train complete with rails and a 4.5 volt motor was introduced.

1968 – LEGOLAND Park opened in Billund.

LEGOLAND Park in Billund

LEGOLAND Billund Opened 7 June 1968 attracting 625,000 visitors in its first season, 3,000 on the opening day.

1969 – LEGO DUPLO was launched for younger children with double the sized bricks.

1974 – The LEGO figure was born representing a brand new concept for role play.

1977 – LEGO Technic was introduced challenging older children to construct vehicles and other machines.

1978 – Godtfred Kirk Christiansen’s son Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen introduced the “System in a System” concept taking into consideration the needs and skills of children at various ages.   The minifigure as we know it today was launched.

LEGO Minifigure Launched 1978

LEGO Minifigure Launched 1978.  Over the years, approximately 4 billion minifigures have been produced.

1979 – Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen became President and CEO of the LEGO Group.  LEGO Themes were introduced and attention is drawn to storytelling and role playing.

1980 – LEGO Dacta, now called LEGO Education was formed to develop and launch educational teaching materials.

1984 – LEGO Group went into partnership with MIT Media Lab (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), USA.



1986 – LEGO Technic Computer Control launched as one of the first outcomes of the MIT Media Lab partnership.

1989 – Professor Seymour Papert from MIT appointed as LEGO Professor.

1994 – LEGO Kids’ Wear from Kabooki A/S was launched based on a licence agreement.

1995 – LEGO PRIMO was launched for babies and toddlers up to 24 months old.

1996 – www.LEGO.com was launched and LEGOLAND Park opened in Windsor, England.

1997 – The first computer game was released.

1998 – LEGO MINDSTORMS was launched from the LEGO GROUP – MIT Media Lab collaboration.  LEGO Group entered into a licence agreement with Lucasfilm Ltd to develop, manufacture and market LEGO sets based on the Star Wars films.  Later, LEGO Group also entered similar agreements with companies such as Disney, Hit Entertainment and Warner Bros.

1999 – LEGOLAND park opened in California USA.  LEGO was elected Toy Of The Century.

2001 – BIONICLE universe was launched – a combination of physical products and an extensive online universe for children to tell and explore their storyline.

2002 – LEGOLAND park opened in Günzburg, Germany.  The LEGO Learning Institute, made up of international experts researching into children’s imagination, creativity and learning skills, was also established.

2003 – The LEGO Group presented a major deficit and faced a serious crisis.  In 2004 to 2005, the company focused on survival and a turnaround.

2004 – Jørgen Vig Knudstorp succeeded Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen as President and CEO.

2005 – LEGOLAND parks were sold to Merlin Entertainments Group due to the financial crisis.  LEGO Group had to focus on the core business while the LEGO Group’s owner takes over a share of Merlin Entertainments Group.

2006 – LEGO MINDSTORMS robot got a new updated version MINDSTORMS NXT.  It was more advance than its eight years older brother and can see, hear, speak, fell and move.

2009 – LEGO Games board games with the slogan “Build – Play – Build again” were introduced.

2010 – LEGO Universe, an online multiplayer game was launched.

2011 – LEGO Ninjago was launched combining spinners and battle cards with classic LEGO construction play.  LEGOLAND park opened in Florida, USA.  In May 2011, LEGO Group presented its official LEGO page on Facebook which was taken over from a LEGO fan who had set up the page in 2008.  Close to 1.5 million people ‘liked’ the page by the end of 2011.   LEGO Group also set up a page on LINKEDIN for job seekers and a Twitter channel which had approximately 11,000 followers at the end of 2011.    ReBrick.com was launched in December 2011 – for LEGO fans aged 13 and over to share their own LEGO creations online.

2012 – LEGO Friends was launched targeting girls introducing a new mini doll figure.

 

Happy 80th birthday LEGO.  Your toys were what I grew up with, and I hope that many more children down many generations will enjoy the bricks and toys that LEGO Group makes.

Photo credit: Used by permission,® 2012 The LEGO Group

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