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 Grand Creator Emporium 10211 Pieces & Misc. No MinifiguresHot 6 Sets Friends Girl Series Building Toys All New In Plastic BagsCity Trains Series 636 Dining Car Building Toys All New In Plastic Bags Fit 9vLego Star Wars Ucs Millennium Falcon 10179 - 1st Edition, Misb! Never Shipped!Lego Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer 10030 100% Complete Instructions No Box Lego Batmobile Wedges Batman Logo Hub Caps 7784 7783Brand New! Lego Star Wars Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon (10179) SealedLego Pirates Of The Caribbean The Black Pearl CompleteLego Death Star 10188 With Mini Figures & InstructionsLego Creator #31012 - Family House - New In BoxLego Creator Green Grocer (10185) Lego Creator Town Hall (10224) Complete With Instructions And Minifigures#10197 Fire Brigade - Lego Creator Modular - New & Sealed#10197 Fire Brigade - Lego Creator Modular - New & SealedHuge Lego Lot 80lbs+ Minifigs Star Wars Ninjago City Technic Bulk Bricks SetsLego Star Wars Death Star Ii (10143) - Opened & In Good ShapeLego Creator Green Grocer (10185) Complete With Instructions And MinifiguresLego Creator #4956 - House - 100% With InstructionsLego Pirates Of The Caribbean Queen Anne's Revenge CompleteLego Star Wars Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon (10179) - SealedLego Creator Green Grocer (10185) Assembled No Box Or InstructionsMega Lego Star Wars Collection 28+ Sets 95+ Mini Figures, Weapons & Books Lot !!Lego Harry Potter Mixed Lot + Figures May Help Look!!#10197 Fire Brigade - Lego Creator Modular - New & SealedLego Monster Fighters Haunted House (10228)Lego Creator Town Hall (10224) - Opened With Box & InstructionsLego Store Display Large 19 Inch Tall Mini Figure W/ Blue Overalls Lego Technic #8265 - Front Loader - 100%, Unused Stickers, Instructions#10197 Fire Brigade - Lego Creator Modular - New & SealedLego Creator Grand Emporium (10211) With MinifiguresLego Imperial Flagship Huge Retired Box Instructions All Minifigs 100% (10210)Lego Batman The Tumbler 76023 Building Set New SealedLego Creator #5771 - Hillside House - 100% With InstructionsLego Creator #7346 - Seaside House - 100% With InstructionsLego Pirates Of The Caribbean Black Pearl (4184)Lego Batman Arkham Asylum Breakout 10937 - Brand New & Sealed With Bonus! 76000Lego Imperial Star Destroyer (10030) - Kit & Instructions, No Box#10197 Fire Brigade - Lego Creator Modular - New & SealedHuge Lego Lot 20 Lbs Pounds Bulk Loose Legos Star Wars Alien Conquest + TableLego Detectives Office Modular 10246Rare Lego Batman The Batmobile Ultimate Collectors' Limited Edition SetLego Denmark Ferguson Tractor 50´s Mint In Box Very Rare - VintageLot Of 12 Sets Friends Series Building Toys All New In Original Bags No BoxesLego Modular Town Hall New Sealed 10224Lego Creator Grand Emporium (10211) Complete With Minifigures And Instructions10.4 Lb. Bulk Lot Lego Sand Green Bricks From Statue Of Liberty Sculpture 3450 Lego 71006 - Simpson's House - Complete#9474 The Battle Of Helm's Deep - Lego Lord Of The Rings - New & Sealed#10197 Fire Brigade - Lego Creator Modular - New & SealedLego Electric 120v Train W/114 Pcs Track With Instructions But No BoxLego Pirates Of The Caribbean Black Pearl (4184)76023 Lego Dc Comics Super Heroes The Tumbler Batman Joker Exclusive Box DamagedLego Star Wars Jedi Knights Minifigs (lots)Lego Star Wars Millennium Falcon (7965)Lego 21107 Minecraft Micro World The End New 440 Pcs Ages 10+ YrsLego Haunted House 10228 New Sealed Extras! Monstor FightersLego Star Wars Lego Y Wing Attack Star Fighter 10134Lego Fllowers And Trees Bulk Lot, Instant ForestLego Creator Town Hall (10224) - Factory Sealed & Great Condition#10197 Fire Brigade - Lego Creator Modular - New & Sealed