LEGO: Building a legend
1932: Ole Kirk Kristiansen, master carpenter and joiner, establishes his business in the village of Billund, Denmark. His firm manufactures stepladders, ironing boards, stools and wooden toys. His son, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, starts working in the business at the age of 12.
1934: The company and its products now adopt the name LEGO, formed from the Danish words “Leg Godt” (“play well”). The firm has six or seven employees.
1946: The LEGO Group is the first in Denmark to buy a plastic injection-molding machine for toy production. The machine costs 30,000 Danish krone (about $5,400).
1949: The company produces around 200 different plastic and wooden toys, including Automatic Binding Bricks, a forerunner of the LEGO bricks we know today. They are sold in Denmark exclusively.
The first packaging with four colors is introduced.
1953: The Automatic Binding Bricks get a new name: “LEGO Mursten” (“LEGO Bricks”). The name LEGO is printed inside all bricks.
1958: The current LEGO stud-and-tube coupling system is patented. The new coupling principle makes models much more stable.
1961: Sales start in the United States and Canada via a license agreement with Samsonite Corp.
1964: Model sets, complete with building instructions, are launched as a natural addition to existing Basic and Supplementary sets.
1973: A single new LEGO logo replaces the various logos that have been used until now. The new LEGO logo unifies all the company’s products under one banner.
LEGO USA is established in Brookfield, Conn.
1990: The LEGO Group is now one of the world’s 10 largest toy manufacturers — the only one in Europe (the others are American and Japanese).
1996: www.lego.com is launched. A new development department, SPU Darwin, is established. Its work includes the development of software based on and related to LEGO products.
1998: For the first time ever, LEGO Group faces a deficit.
1999: LEGOLAND California opens in Carlsbad, Calif., in March.
The LEGO brick is named as one of the “Products of the Century” by Fortune Magazine.
2000: The British Association of Toy Retailers names the LEGO brick “Toy of the Century.”
The LEGO Group signs a partnership deal with Warner Bros. relating to the launch of LEGO products based on Harry Potter’s magic universe.
2003: For LEGO minifigures who represent real-life people or characters from books, movies or TV series, the yellow facial coloring is replaced by a more authentic skin color, facial expression and hair style.
2004: In January, the LEGO Group announces the results of 2003 — a huge deficit.
LEGO Factory at www.lego.com enables customers to create their own model and buy the LEGO elements required to build it.
2007: The LEGO Group celebrates its 75th anniversary on Aug. 10 on sound financial footing.
The LEGO Group enters a license agreement with Lucasfilm Inc. on the production of LEGO Indiana Jones sets.
The LEGO “Star Wars” Millennium Falcon is the largest LEGO model so far. Weight: 6 kilos (13 pounds). Number of elements included: 5,195 pieces.
2008: The LEGO brick celebrates its 50th anniversary. While maintaining production in sites in Eastern Europe, Mexico and Denmark, the LEGO Group decides to take back the majority of its production so that most LEGO products will be produced in-house.
2009: Warner Bros. and the LEGO Group announce plans to develop the first-ever feature film based on LEGO bricks and icons.
2011: LEGOLAND Florida opens.
The LEGO Group is now the world’s third largest toy manufacturer in terms of sales.
2014: The LEGO name celebrates its 80th birthday.
In February, “The LEGO Movie” premieres in a number of countries. The movie is written by Phil Lord and Chris Miller and produced by Warner Bros. It is the first time the LEGO universe has been pictured in a movie.
The strong growth continues and the LEGO Group presents very satisfactory annual results for 2013. In less than 10 years, the company has quadrupled its revenue.
Source: Lego’s website http://aboutus.lego.com/en-us/lego-group/the_lego_history/