Written By: Bill Griggs - Aug• 13•12

From Wooden Ducks to CNC – Lego Celebrates 80 Years.

If you have been following my blog you know that I like LEGO toys. Lego has been around since before I was born in fact LEGO Celebrates 80 Years in business this year. Lego did something unique to celebrate it’s 80 years in business, they made an animated  movie that tells the companies story. I watched the movie, all 17 minutes and 10 seconds of it and I give it a big thumbs up. Most companies get really sappy when they try to tell their own story. This really isn’t the case with Lego.


The story tells how Lego founder Ole Kirk Kristiansen began business as a carpenter who later switched to making wooden toys. Ole Built the business up slowly and eventually had a thriving business making quality wooden toys.


In 1932 Ole Kirk Kristainsen had a failing carpentry business in Billund Denmark.  His shop was well run but Ole couldn’t seem to make a profit. Ole switched from making furniture to making wooden toys. Later Ole began personally driving around Denmark making deals to sell his toys directly to the shop owners.  Kristainsen bartered  some of his sales and got enough money to keep things going while he slowly built his business. The company invested in new tooling such as milling machines. Sometime in 1934 Ole Kristainsen renamed the business LEGO. In Danish the words “LEG GODT” means playing well. In Latin LEGO also means “I put together”.

Lego wooden toy duck.

Toy duck made by Ole Kristainsen

When tragedy struck and a fire wiped out the workshop, Ole decided to rebuild.  The new factory was bigger than before and the company was soon back to making wooden toys again.

Original Lego Automatic Binding Brick

First Lego Brick Automatic Binding Brick 1949.


In 1936 Ole went to a trade show in Copenhagen to look at some new technology. One of the latest machines displayed was a plastic molding machine.  The demonstration parts that were being made were little tiny plastic bricks. Ole took one home one of the bricks and also one of the machines. Ole began making plastic teddy bears and rattles with the molding machine. In the back of his mind Ole was still fascinated by the little plastic blocks he had brought home from the trade show.  Something about the blocks intrigued him  so he redesigned them and put them into production. These plastic blocks were not the LEGO brick we use today. The original toy stacked together but wouldn’t stay together.   It took many years and research but Ole’s son Godtfred Kirk Christainsen “(spelling according to patent documents) finally applied for a patent for the Lego Toy building bricks in January 28, 1958.

Lego Building Brick Today.

Lego Building Brick Today.

I am really glad I watched the movie because it showed a bit of the back story of how growing a business is never an easy proposition. But by sticking with it and being willing to change you can thrive. Lego has branched out into so many areas of childrens fun and education.  There are now Lego Video games, online communities, Legoland amusement parks, Lego stores. Lego is truly a part of world culture. Congratulations Lego on celebrating 80 years of making kids happy.


While researching this piece, I came across several spellings for the name Kristainsen. On the official Lego about page the name is spelled Kristainsen. Yet on the patent pages filed in Denmark the Godtfred’s last name is spelled Christainsen. Which spelling is the correct one? I emailed Lego to get the correct spelling and I got a response from Lego Press officer Roar Rude Trandgbaek. Roar ( I love that name) informed me that both spellings were correct. Ole Kirk Kristainsen spelled his last name with a “K”. His son Godtfred Kirk Christainsen spelled his last nme with a “C”. Roar advised that the spelling of the name really depended on the Generation  you are referring to.  Mystery solved.

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  1. […] carpinteiro, perdeu o seu negócio e começou a fazer brinquedos com as suas sobras de madeira. O negócio decolou e eventualmente evoluiu para o império gigante de Lego. […]

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