We associate LEGOs with brightly colored, interlocking plastic bricks that have caused many a barefoot parent to howl in pain, but when a Danish carpenter named Ole Kirk Kristiansen founded the company that would become LEGO in 1932, he produced only wooden toys, from pull-along animals such as ducks and cats to building blocks and yo-yos. In 1934, the firm was officially named LEGO, which is short for “leg godt,” or “play well,” in Danish.

At first yo-yos were big sellers for Kristiansen, but when their popularity waned toward the end of the decade, the carpenter made the most of the downturn but re-purposing his unsold yo-yo inventory as wheels for his pull-toys and vehicles. One of the earliest vehicles Kristiansen made was a wooden train, with an engine, passenger car, and caboose. Roughly 30 years later, in 1965, LEGO would release its first plastic model trains, but throughout World War II, when Denmark was occupied by Germany, wood was a good material to be working with, since metal and rubber were reserved for the war effort.

If parents perceived an educational and even moral aspect to LEGO products, it was because Kristiansen and his sons and grandsons who followed in his footsteps imbued their products with core values. This was especially true for the LEGO interlocking bricks, or “Automatic Binding Bricks” as they were called upon their introduction in 1949. The goal was not just a toy but a toy system, whose generic components permitted unlimited, imagination-based play for both boys and girls.

The first molded, plastic LEGO bricks lacked the characteristic LEGO branding seen on the tops of each brick’s studs. The bottoms of the bricks were hollow (they did not yet have corresponding tubes to line up with the studs), while the sides had vertical slits, designed to secure windows and doors. By 1953, branding would be added to the mold, but the bottoms of the bricks remained hollow until 1957, when the interlocking system we know today was introduced.

LEGOs arrived in the United States in 1961, and larger DUPLO bricks, aimed at toddlers, were introduced worldwide in 1969. That same year, the 4.5-volt motor that had been powering LEGO trains was upgraded to a more robust 12-volt model. And in 1974, the first LEGO figures were released, although their popularity was eclipsed in 1978 when the first LEGO minifigure (a policeman) was included in LEGO set #600. Each minifigure was as tall as four bricks, except for those minifigures with shorter legs, the first of which was Yoda from the “Star Wars” series in 2002.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Brick Fetish

Brick Fetish

Jim Hughes' history-of-LEGO reference site is organized around a comprehensive LEGO timeline, from 1891 to 1968, wi… [read review or visit site]

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood

Embrace your inner child on this website from the Victoria and Albert Museum, filled with high-quality images and i… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Lego Star Wars Ucs #10129,rebel Snowspeeder At Field Hq W/mounted Umbaran CannonLego Star Wars Millenium Falcon 10179 Ultimate Collectors Edition Ucs NewLego Imperial Star Destroyer Ucs 10030 Partially Built With Some Sealed BagsLego Star Wars Death Star (10188) Used In Box Nothing MissingRare Lego Creator 10197 Fire Brigade Station W Box 100% Complete NrLego Star Wars Star Destroyer (10030) Complete Set W/ Instructions & Orig. BoxesLego Monster Fighters Haunted House (10228) NibLego Star Wars - Ewok Village - (10236) - Sealed And Fast ShippingHarry Potter Lego Lot 4840 4842 4866 4865 4738 Hogwarts Castle Burrow Knight BusLego Creator Fire Brigade (10197) Retired. Hard To FindLego Cafe Corner (10182)| CompleteLego Star Wars 10221 Ucs Super Star Destroyer Nib, Free Shipping, Nr!!!Lego Dc Super Heroes Batman Arkham Asylum Breakout 10937 -rare, Retired, LimitedLego Monster Fighters Haunted House Vampyre Bride Ghosts Zombie Child 10228 NewLego Star Wars Ewok Village 1990 Pcs Used In Box Nothing MissingLego Star Wars Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon (10179) *new-sealed Box*Lego Star Wars Death Star 10188Lego Creator # 10197 Fire Brigade (2231 Pieces)Lego Creator Town Hall 10224 Brand New/sealed - Rare, Retired, LimitedNew Lego City Cargo Train Set 60052 Diesel Locomotive Engine W/ Power FunctionsLego Imperial Star Destroyer (10030)Lego Star Wars Sandcrawler 75059 IntactLego Harry Potter 10217 Diagon Alley Brand New/sealed - Rare, Limited, Retired -Lego Black Seas Barracuda, El Dorado Fortress, Caribbean Clipper (all Complete)Lego 8683 Minifigures Series 1-full Set Of 16-complete With Base PlatesLego Trains Maersk Train (10219) **new**Lego#71006 Simpsons House Mint Box Bnib New- Unopened BoxLot Of 120+ Lego Minifigs/minifigures W/accessories Weapons Body PartsNisb Lego 10221 Star Wars Ucs Super Star Destroyer Vader Bossk Dengar PiettLego Train 10020 Santa Fe Super Chief With Cars 10022 & 10025Lego Monster Fighters Haunted House (10228) Used With Books, Box, And BricksNew Casio Dee And Ricky White Lego G-shock Limited Edition Rare Watch Ga111dr-7aHuge Lot Lego Friends SetsLego Base Plate Lot Of 3 Blue 32 X 32 (10" X 10") Two (2) Lego 10233 Horizon Express Train Sets Sold Out RetiredLego Games Castle Giant Chess Set (852293)Lego Trains Maersk Train (10219)Lego Star Wars Super Star Destroyer (10221) Nib Never OpenedLego Imperial Star Destroyer 10030 W/ Instruction Manual -used No Box IncompleteLego Creator Grand Emporium 10211 - Brand New In Box - Factory SealedLego Star Wars - Slave I - # 75060 - 1996 Pieces - Sealed/fast ShippingLego Castle Vintage 80s Sets Lot 6067 6066 6054 Boxes Instructions Great Shape Lego 20 Minifigures, 13 Base & Road Plates, Huge Instruction Book Lot, TilesLego Large Scale Models Buildings Eiffel TowerLego Castle Vintage 80's Lot 6073 6041 6061 6030 6049 6022 6039 6016 6017 CleanLego 10217 Harry Potter Diagon Alley SetLego Star Wars Super Star Destroyer (10221) New Sealed Box RetiredLego Star Wars 10225 Ucs R2-d2 Nisb Sold Out Retired Nr, True Auction! Fast ShipLego 4 Lbs Friends Blocks Figures 3942 3937 41018 Huge LotLego Dc Universe Super Heroes Batman Arkham Asylum Breakout (10937)New Lego Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer 75055 W/ Darth Vader & Storm TroopersLego 10129 Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series Rebel Snowspeeder W/manual & Box!Lego Ucs Darth Maul Bust (10018) Star Wars Rare Ultimate Collector Complete 2001Lego Grand Emporium 10211 Brand New100% Authentic Lego 16x16 Base Plate Lot Of 55 In Various Colors Island RoadLego Creator Town Hall (10224)Lego Creator Seasonal Winter Village Toy Shop 10199 Brand New Sealed - RetiredLego Technic Independent Suspension, Dual Shock, Portal Axle 4wd Rolling Chassis744 Vintage Lego 'ho' 325 Shell Service Station / Garage - Boxed & CompleteLego Creator Cafe Corner