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    

Lot Of 12 Sets Friends Series Building Toys All New In Original Bags No BoxesLot Of 12 Sets Friends Series Building Toys All New In Original Bags No BoxesLego Star Wars Millenium Falcon 10179 UcsLego Star Wars Ucs Millennium Falcon (10179) 1st Edition 100% Complete With BoxLots 8 Sets Building Toys Friends Series Girl's Gift All New In Plastic BagsLots 8 Sets Building Toys Friends Series Girl's Gift All New In Plastic BagsLego Marvel Super Heroes Quicksilver - Brand New - 76041 Avengers Age Of UltronLego Jurassic World T-rex - Brand New 75918 Minifigure Minifig Tyrannosaurus RexLego Star Wars Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon (10179) *new-sealed Box*Lego Star Wars Massive Huge Lot 100+ Minifigures 20+ Sets Weapons Manuals BricksLego Sculptures #10189 Taj Mahal Set 5922pcs Brand New In Box!! Rare!Lego Star Wars Ucs Death Star Ii (10143) CompleteNew Sealed Lego Modular Green Grocer - 10185 Rare Discontinued BnisbLego 10211 Grand Emporium Modular Creator Store ShopLego 7965 - Star Wars - Millennium FalconVery Rare - Lego 10019 Ucs Blocade Runner (tantive Iv) - Never BuiltCollectible Lego #10196 Snap Together Build It Yourself Grand Carousel Lego Imperial Star Destroyer (10030)Lego 8683 Minifigures Series 1-full Set Of 16-complete With Base Plates!Lego Star Wars At-at Walker #75054 Sealed Bags With Opened Box Lego 10182 Corner Cafe Modular Lego Hotel Creator BuildingLego Harry Potter Minifigures Lot Diagon Alley Set #10217 With FiguresLego Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer Set # 75055 - Mint In Unopened BoxLego Star Wars Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon (10179)Lego Train Track Huge Lot Of 241 Pieces 5 Switches 2 Cross 144 Turns 91 StraightLego Harry Potter Order Of The Phoenix Hogwarts Castle (5378)Lego Harry Potter Minifig Lot Voldemort Dumbledore Mad Eye Moody And More! RareLego Star Wars Republic Gunship With At-ot Walker #10195 100% Complete W/ Figure8 Sets Friends Girl Series Building Toys All New In Plastic BagsLego Imperial Star Destroyer (10030) All Pieces And Instructions. No Box.Lego City Airport Lot! 3181 3182 3222 Airplane Helicopter IncompleteLego 10198 - Star Wars - Tantive Iv8 Sets Friends Girl Series Building Toys All New In Plastic BagsLego Star Wars 10175 Vader's Tie Fighter Advanced Lego Star Wars 7965 Millennium Falcon - Built Once For DisplayLego, 8 Old Rare 1960s Ho Scale Plastic Cars Dc And Marvel Superhero Minifigure Lot (lego And Custom)Lego Creator Ferris Wheel, Crane, Drawbridge. Motorized. New 4957Lego Winter Village Cottage #10229 Brand New And SealedLego Star Wars Hoth Echo Base, At-at + Snowspeeder 3 Set Lot Rare Sealed Sets Lego Monster Fighters Haunted House (10228)Assembled Lego Creator Fire Brigade (10197) - Retired!Lego Star Wars 75059 Sandcrawler,lego 75059,lego Star Wars,star WarsLego Village Winter Post Office Set #10222 Brand New And SealedLego Harry Potter Philosphers Stone Hogwarts Castle (4709)Gold Freddy : Custom Lego Five Nights At Freddy's Fnaf Mini FigureLego Town Hall 10224 Creator Modular Building Set Brand New Open Box NibLego Star Wars R2-d2 Ucs 10225 Nib Factory Sealed Rare R2d2 New Lego Fire Brigade 10197 Creator Modular Building Set Brand New In Box! Nib NisbLego 8070 Technic Red Supercar Retired Super Car Huge 18" Retired FerrariLego Star Wars Death Star 10188 (used And Built Once, But Includes All Pieces)Lego Classic Space Futuron 6990 Monorail Transport System Complete MinifigsLego, 6 Old Rare 1960s Ho Scale Plastic Cars Assembled Lego Creator Grand Emporium (10211) - RetiredLego Winter Village Bakery, # 10216 Brand New And SealedLego Star Wars Episode Iv-vi Imperial Star Destroyer (6211)Lego 10195 Republic Dropship W/at-ot Walker 99% Sure Complete W/box 1/2+ UnopendLego 71006 The Simpsons House New In BoxLego Trains Maersk Train (10219) Misb 100% Complete Lego Creator Green Grocer (10185) Original Box And Instruction Manuals- Complete