A master carpenter from the small village of Billund, Denmark named Ole Kirk Christiansen, was the founder of Lego in 1932.
His company made stepladders, ironing boards and wooden toys. Then in 1934 he changed the company name to LEGO, which is formed from two Danish words “Leg Godt” which translates into “play well”.
After years of making wooden connecting toys, the LEGO company purchased plastic moulding machines and in 1947 they commenced making bricks from plastic whilst continuing to make their wooden toys.
In 1949 the LEGO company produced about 200 different plastic and wooden toys, including “Automatic Binding Bricks”, which is what the original LEGO bricks were known as.
The LEGO block design which is still used today was actually patented on the 28th January, 1958. So it’s no surprise that the blocks made over 60 years ago are still compatible with the blocks LEGO make today.
In 1963, LEGO blocks were made from a special plastic called acrylonitrile butadiene styrene or ABS. A stronger plastic that was easier to mold during high temperatures. This means that the molds are really accurate, approximately with two thousand of a millimetre, subsequently only a handful of blocks fail to meet the company’s high quality standards and a lot less wastage.
Over the past 50 years, the Lego Group has produced over 400 billion LEGO blocks. That’s enough LEGO blocks for every person in the world to have at least 60 LEGO blocks each.
LEGO was first made in loose sets of bricks only, until in 1966, LEGO kits were created, making things like buildings, trucks, planes, and ships.
Then in 1969 the LEGO Group expanded its products by introducing the LEGO DUPLO line. These consisted of larger bricks for preschool aged children.
Following this in 1977, the TECHNIC line of sophisticated products for older kids and teens were designed and created.
There are over 4 billion LEGO figures, which would mean that if they were real people they would be the world’s largest population.
Only last year 340 million mini figures were produced, which if you stood them next to each other in a line they would stretch to a massive 7,900km, that’s almost the same distance from London to Beijing in China!
Also there are around 20 billion LEGO elements (bricks) produced every year in the LEGO factory in Billund – which makes it a huge 2 million bricks made an hour or 35,000 a minute.
Over the Christmas period, on average 28 sets of LEGO are sold every second, which means 1,680 are sold every minute, 100,800 every hour.
The LEGO group is now owned and managed by the founder’s grandson, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen and his three children.