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The Story of LEGO

We discovered this fun video that shares the history of LEGOs. We hope you enjoy it. We did! If you and your kids love LEGOs, we’re sure you’ll find it entertaining, informative and well-done.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

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Did you know a skilled Danish carpenter named Ole Kirk Kristiansen started the company in 1932? Times were hard and he had to dismiss his employees, so he started to make quality wooden toys. Ole used only the finest quality, hand-picked wood.

After school his son Godtfred would help.

At first, it was a struggle. A large wholesale order was cancelled because the buyer filed for bankruptcy. Ole packed his car with the toys he had made, and sold them himself.  But Ole was not a good salesman. Sometimes he traded the toys for food. The Kristiansens got by.

In 1934, the toys were not selling as quickly as Ole wished. He thought the company needed a name. The name needed to indicate “playing well”. In Danish, LEG GODT means to “play well.” Ole decided on “LEGO.” What he didn’t know is that in Latin, “lego” means “to put together.” How prophetic.

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One day Godtfred excitedly reported to his father that he had saved their company money. But when he explained how he had done this – applying only two layers of lacquer to the  toy ducks instead of three –  his father made him unpack the ducks, apply the third layer of lacquer, repack the ducks and take them to the station to be shipped. Godtfred learned an important lesson: To create a good brand, every detail matters and only the best is good enough.

By the late 1930s, LEGO was making a profit.

But on a 1942 stormy night, the workshop burned down. And with it, all the drawings and models.  The little company was nearly destroyed as well. But Ole was responsible for his children and workers, so he started again and rebuilt.

In 1946, LEGO was running well enough for Ole to go to Copenhagen to see a new plastic molding machine that just arrived to Denmark. He picked up a little demo plastic brick while there and ordered a machine.

At first they made little plastic teddy bear and rattles, but Ole kept thinking of the plastic brick he got at the fair.  He redesigned it and put it into production.

In 1954, Godtfred was aboard a liner sailing to England where he met a man who headed up a shopping center. This conversation would change LEGO. The man said, “toys are no good now; there is no system in anything.”

Godtfred took this to heart. He realized that children were given only play items that were “ready-made”. Instead, play should strengthen their imagination. He created the LEGO system of play. Houses could be built from the LEGO bricks, in a town. This was a huge breakthrough.

LEGO began selling outside of Denmark in many countries.

But there were still opportunities. The LEGO bricks could be built into as many things as the imagination allowed. But it couldn’t be easily moved; it kept falling apart. So Godtfred thought he had to figure out a way to make the bricks stay together. He realized that adding tubes allowed that and enabled a whole construction system.

Unfortunately, Ole didn’t get to see the brick system. He passed away in 1958.

Many guests came to the LEGO factory, especially after Godtfred built the Bilund airport. So many guests, they needed a bigger place to display the models. Thus, LEGO Land was born in 1968, with 600,000 guests the first year.

LEGO is now owned by Ole’s grandson, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, who still believes in Quality, the Search for Perfection, and a World Without Limits. “Only the best is good enough, because children deserve the best.”

We hope you enjoyed this ride through LEGO memory lane.

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