The name ‘LEGO’ is an abbreviation of the two Danish words “leg godt”, meaning “play well”. It’s our name and it’s our ideal.
The LEGO Group was founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen. The company has passed from father to son and is now owned
by Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, a grandchild of the founder. It has come a long way over the past almost 80 years – from a small
carpenter’s workshop to a modern, global enterprise that is now one of the world’s largest manufacturers of toys.
The LEGO brick is our most important product. We are proud to have been named “Toy of the Century” twice. Our products
have undergone extensive development over the years – but the foundation remains the traditional LEGO brick.
The brick in its present form was launched in 1958. The interlocking principle with its tubes makes it unique and offers
unlimited building possibilities. It’s just a matter of getting the imagination going – and letting a wealth of creative ideas
emerge through play.
Below is the LEGO history through the decades.
The LEGO Factory has 10 employees.
Godtfred Kirk Christiansen starts creating models. He is 17 years old.
Godtfred Kirk Christiansen (GKC) cuts Ole Kirk’s motto “Only the best is good enough” and hangs it up in the workshop.
The business manufactures its first LEGO wooden duck and markets “Kirk´s Sandgame” its first construction toy.
The company and its products now adopt the name LEGO, formed from the Danish words “LEg GOdt” (“play well”).
Later, it is realised that in Latin the word means “I put together”. The firm has 6-7 employees.
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.
Denmark is occupied by the Germans.
odtfred Kirk Christiansen does not travel to Germany to study as planned.
Instead, he becomes manager at LEGO.
The LEGO factory burns to the ground, but the production of wooden toys is quickly resumed.
The firm has approx. 40 employees.
The LEGO Group is the first in Denmark to buy a plastic injection-moulding machine for toy production.
The machine costs DKK 30,000. By comparison, the revenue of the firm this year is DKK 450,000.
The Windsor SH Plastic Moulding Machine arrives at Esbjerg Port.
As a test, six series of wooden toy animals are exported to India.
LEGO has 50 employees.
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 colours is introduced.
Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, son of the founder, Ole Kirk Kristiansen, is appointed Junior Vice President the day he turns 30.
The first ever film about LEGO is shot.
The photographer is Christian Lund, and the film is black and white with no sound.
Plastic toys account for half of the company’s output.
Ole Kirk’s plans to expand, and a plant is built. It costs DKK 350,000.
The company now has its first canteen.
The Automatic Binding Bricks get a new name: “LEGO Mursten” (“LEGO Bricks”).
The name LEGO is printed inside all bricks.
The first application for registration of the trademark.
The Danish registration is accepted on the 1 May 1954.
The word LEGO is officially registered in Denmark on 1st May.
Godtfred Kirk Christiansen travels to England and meets a purchasing agent on the ferry.
They talk about toys. The agent thinks that toys lack idea and system.
This spawns the LEGO System idea in the mind of Godtfred Kirk Christiansen.
After further developing the LEGO Bricks, the company launches the revolutionary “LEGO System of Play”
– creating an new play platform. The first real export of LEGO begins. First country is Sweden.
Godtfred Kirk Christiansen demonstrates the new product at a toy fair in Nuremberg, Germany.
Reactions are not positive.
The first foreign sales company is established in Hohenwestedt, Germany under the name LEGO Spielwaren GmbH.
The company buys its first own truck.
Godtfred Kirk Christiansen is appointed Managing Director.
The LEGO Brick’s interlocking principle is invented.
LEGO Schweiz is established. The LEGO Group celebrates its 25th anniversary.
The current LEGO stud-and-tube coupling system is patented.
The new coupling principle makes models much more stable.
Ole Kirk Kristiansen passes away and Godtfred Kirk Christiansen becomes head of the company.
The first telex machine and photocopier in Billund. 140 employees in Billund.
Futura, the product-development department, now has five members of staff. A market analysis department is established.
Photography department is established. LEGO France, British LEGO Ltd., LEGO Belgium and LEGO Sweden are established.
The machines in the production are now so automatic that one operator can handle two machines at a time.
LEGO gives the municipality of Billund approx. 20 acres of land and DKK 50,000 for a sports ground.
The wooden toy warehouse is destroyed by fire. Production of wooden toys is discontinued entirely.
Approximately 450 employees in Billund. LEGO Finland and LEGO Nederland are established.
The range comprises 50 sets, 15 vehicles and various loose elements. Sales start in the US and Canada via a license agreement
with Samsonite Corp. First ever strike at LEGO. LEGO Italy is established. Godtfred Kirk Christiansen buys a small
Piper Apache plane (room for two pilots and three passengers) in association with Sonderjyllands Flyselskab
(later to become Cimber Air). A landing field is established just outside Billund.
The LEGO Wheel is launched after being worked on since 1958.
Sales start in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Morocco and Japan.
LEGO Australia is established. The first personnel manager hired.
Godtfred Kirk Christiansen presents the company to the ten product characteristics:
LEGO Elements are now moulded in ABS, a plastic which improves the clutch power. LEGO Austria is established.
Procurement department established. INTERLEGO AG is established in Switzerland. Billund Airport opens.
The first international company film, “Mr. Johnson from Australia”, is produced.
Model sets, complete with building instructions, are launched as a natural addition to existing Basic and Supplementary sets.
First sales to the Middle East (Lebanon). LEGO bricks are exhibited at the Danish pavilion at the New York World Fair.
Production plant LEGO Werkzeugbau GmbH in Hohenwehenstedt, Germany opens.
First sales in Spain. More than 600 employees in Billund.
The product range comprises 57 sets and 25 vehicles. A total of 706 million LEGO elements are produced during the year.
LEGO is now sold in 42 countries.
The LEGOLAND Band is established. There are now 218 different LEGO elements (not counting colour variations) and
between 18 and 19 million LEGO sets are sold during the year. The small wheel for small cars is invented – launches in 1970.
LEGOLAND® Billund opens its gates on 7th June and attracts 625,000 visitors in its first season, 3000 on the opening day.
The first computer in LEGO Group – an NCR 390 for salary administration. The machine costs DKK 85,000.
First sales to Latin America: Peru and Curacao.
The DUPLO series for under-fives is launched internationally. 843 employees in Billund. The first LEGOLAND film.
LEGO car tyres are now made of PVC.
Almost 1000 employees in Billund. First prototype of an adding machine arrives.
First sales to the Far East. New moulding factory opens at Højmarksvej.
The license agreement with Samsonite ends in the US. The Information & Public Relations department is established.
1,8 billion LEGO Bricks and other elements have been produced. First sales to the Czech Republic.
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. First sales to Eastern Europe (Hungary). LEGO USA is established in Brookfield, Connecticut.
LEGO Portugal is established. German psychologist Karin Grossmann writes the book “Mach mehr aus LEGO”.
It is a study of 200 children and their play with LEGO bricks. LEGOLAND Sierkersdorf opens near Lübeck, Germany.
LEGO Spain is established. LEGO Overseas A/S is established. LEGO Futura ApS is established.
The Mount Rushmore replica is created in the LEGOLAND Park. The LEGOLAND park in Billund receives visitor no. 5 million.
The Esso Motor Hotel (built 1968) in Billund is bought and the name changed to Hotel Vis-a-Vis.
LEGO USA moves from Brookfield to Enfield, Connecticut. Procurement in the US is established.
The LEGO Group has 2,500 employees. LEGO Portugal is established. English becomes the official corporate language.
LEGOLAND Sieksdorf is closed. Sculpturer Robert Jacobsen’s “LEGO” is revealed in Billund.
Minitalia, that launched in Italy in 1971, is removed from the product line.
Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the third generation, joins the LEGO Group management. LEGO Australia is established.
DUPLO Factory in Billund is now an independent unit in the LEGO Group.
“System within a System” – Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen’s development model splits production into product ranges and lines.
The DUPLO Rabbit Logo appears. The first LEGO Road Show takes place in Dayton, Ohio. Later, this becomes
the LEGO World Shows. LEGO Japan (Nihon LEGO K.K.) is established. The first telefax is purchased (DKK 68,000).
Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen is appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of INTERLEGO A/S.
The DUPLO rabbit logo is registered as a trademark. LEGO Singapore is established.
Godtfred Kirk Christiansen is appointed Knight of the Order of Dannebrog.
The Educational Products Department is established. Technic Logo is developed by Papermint.
According to a survey, 70% of all Western European families with kids under 14 now have LEGO bricks in their home.
First LEGO World Show in Denmark. There is now a LEGO Strasse in Hohenwestedt, Germany.
A new plant for decorating, assembly, packing and warehousing opens in Baar, Switzerland. Closes in 2001.
The Scala Line, which is introduced in 1979, is cancelled.
LEGO South Africa is established. The LEGO Fiction department established.
The LEGO Group celebrates its 50-years jubilee with all employees in Billund. The Book “50 years of Play” is launched.
3700 employees worldwide. LEGO Overseas holds its first World Distributor Conference in Billund.
LEGO Brazil is established. LEGO Korea is established. McDonald’s co-promotion in USA and Canada.
The American, Hong Kong produced, TYCO Brick is launched, leading to lawsuits in several countries.
The LEGO Prize is founded in April. It is an international annual award of DKK 750,000 (increased in 1989 to DKK 1,000,000)
for exceptional efforts on behalf of children. Procurement department established in Korea.
Approx. 5000 employees, 3000 of these in Billund. Collaboration with Professor Seymour Papert and the Boston M.I.T. begins.
The LEGO Group is granted the title “Purveyor to Her Majesty the Queen” on 16 April (the Birthday of Her Majesty
Queen Margrethe of Denmark). Godtfred Kirk Christiansen resigns as chairman of the board of LEGO System A/S and
LEGO Overseas and Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen takes over. LEGO Fiction becomes LEGO Publishing.
The brick logo is developed. Almost 6,000 employees. LEGO Products are now selling in 115 markets.
The LEGO office in South Africa is closed. Korean Mountaineer Young-Hu buries a small LEGO model on top of Mount Everst
in the Himalayas. LEGO Historical Collection (aka LEGO Idea House) which was founded in 1980, becomes an independent unit
under KIRKBI A/S. Transfers to LEGO A/S in 1991.
Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen introduces the LEGO Group vision. Kornmarken factory opens.
The first official LEGO World Cup building championships are held in Billund in August.
LEGO Canada is established. The exhibition “The Art of LEGO” tours the United Kingdom.
The educational products department changes its name to LEGO Dacta. The word “dacta” derives from the Greek word “didactic”,
meaning “the study of the purpose, means and substance of learning and the learning process”.
Dr. Seymour Papert becomes LEGO Professor of Learning Research. The first LEGO Dacta Centre opens in LEGOLAND
(renamed TECHNIC LAND after a couple of years). Ole Kirk Kristiansen is inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame.
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). The magic barrier – one million visitors in a single year – is broken for the first time at
LEGOLAND Billund on 4th September. Godtfred Kirk Kristiansen, son of the company’s founder, celebrates his
70th birthday on 6th July.
LEGO Malaysia is established.
LEGO Publishing is renamed LEGO Licensing.
The LEGOLAND Band issues an LP.
Professor Xavier Gilbet, IMD, Switzerland, is appointed LEGO Professor, Business Dynamics.
Hotel Vis-a-Vis in Billund is renovated and renamed Hotel LEGOLAND.
The number of moulding machines in the five LEGO factories reaches 1,000.
A Guinness record in railway line construction is set – 545 meters of LEGO rails with three model locomotives.
The world’s largest LEGO Castle is built on Swedish television. Over 400,000 LEGO bricks are transformed into a castle
4.45 m x 5.22 m castle, measured for the Guinness Book of Records. The Second LEGO World Cup Final is held in Billund
in August with 32 children participating from 11 countries.
LEGO Japan is established.
LEGO Hungary is established.
For the first time, a large scale introduction of LEGO products is made in the People’s Republic of China.
First LEGO Show in Russia.
LEGO Imagination Centre is opened in Mall of America in Blomington, Minneapolis, USA.
Building happening on the Red Square in Moscow in co-operation with the department store GUM.
A 60.000m2 DUPLO factory opens in Willisau, Switzerland. The plant closes in 2006.
LEGO South Africa is re-established.
LEGO Kid’s Wear launched.
LEGO Mexico is established.
First ever TV campaign in China.
The UNHCR uses LEGO mini-figures on posters around the world.
The “Travel in Space”, arranged by LEGO USA, opens in Space Center, Houston.
E-mail is taken into use between LEGO Japan and Billund.
The LEGO Center in Billund opens.
8,880 employees world-wide.
Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen is appointed Knight of the Order of Dannebrog.
Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, son of the company’s founder, passes away on 13th July.
LEGO Belgium and LEGO Netherlands become LEGO Benelux.
Weekly LEGO programmes on national television in Latvia and Lithuania.
LEGO happenings and exhibitions in Latvia, Peru, Hungary, Switzerland, Denmark, Greenland, the USA, Canada, Italy and Ecuador.
www.lego.com is launched.
LEGOLAND Windsor, the first LEGOLAND family park outside Denmark, opens on March 29.
New development department, SPU Darwin, is established. Its work includes the development of software
based on and related to LEGO products. LEGOLAND Billund has now had 25 million visitors since its opening on in 1968.
The new LEGO Truck Show takes to the road. The LEGO Award goes to actor Paul Newman and the organization
“The Hole in the Wall Gang”.
For the first time, a CD-ROM containing building instructions is included with a model set.
The set also contains a Bar Code Truck with a programmable bar-code reader.
A 700 m2 LEGO Imagination Center is opened on 13th October in Disney Village, Florida.
The first LEGO MINDSTORMS Learning Center opens at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, USA.
The names PRIMO and DUPLO are changed to LEGO PRIMO and LEGO DUPLO on January 1st.
Consumer Service Centre Billund and Consumer Service Centre Americas established.
LEGO happening in Kremlin Palace, Moscow (more than 300.000 children participate).
LEGO Kids Wear shop opened in Oxford Street, London.
The brand statement “Just Imagine…” is introduced into the LEGO universe.
For the first time ever, LEGO Group faces a deficit.
In April the new LEGO logo is presented. It is a graphically “tightened” version of the logo used for the past 25 years.
In May there is an urgent recall of the LEGO PRIMO Ladybird rattle from end-consumers and retailers after it is
discovered that there is a risk of it lodging in small children’s throats.
LEGO Media International begins collaboration with the Danish Egmont Group on the publication of children’s books.
The Next Generation Forum is established.
The Japanese emperor Akihito and the empress Michiko visit LEGOLAND Billund.
LEGOLAND California opens in Carlsbad, southern California, in March.
LEGO Group undergoes restructuring. The changes result in the loss of 1000 jobs.
Mitchel Resnick of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is named as the new LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research.
The LEGO brick is named as one of the “Products of the Century” by Fortune Magazine.
LEGO World Shop opens on the internet.
The first LEGO products-only store opens in the Bluewater centre in Dartford, London, England.
The company mission and fundamental beliefs are being revised to “Children are our role models…”
The British Association of Toy Retailers names the LEGO brick “Toy of the Century”.
The LEGO Group achieves its budgeted surplus of DKK 500 million and employees are rewarded with a bonus and a global party.
The LEGO Group signs a partnership deal with Warner Bros. relating to the launch of LEGO Products based on Harry Potter’s magic universe.
LEGO factory opens in Kladno, Czech Republic.
The LEGO Group runs a DKK 1 billion deficit.
LEGO My World receives an important award in Germany for the best software learning product at the book fair in Frankfurt.
LEGO Mindstorms Robot “Jitter” is sent into orbit around the earth with the International Space Station.
LEGO Serious Play is unveiled in the autumn.
Deficit is again turned to profit for LEGO Group.
The brand statement “Play On” replaces “Just Imagine…”.
The LEGO DUPLO brand is replaced by the LEGO EXPLORE brand covering all pre-school activities.
LEGO Brand Retail stores open in Cologne, Germany (September), Milton Keynes, England (November) and Moscow, Russia (December).
LEGOLAND Deutschland opens at Günzbrug, Germany.
The LEGO Group signs the UN Global Compact initiative.
For LEGO minifigures who represent real-life persons or characters from books, movies or TV series,
the yellow facial colouring is replaced by a more authentic skin colour, facial expression and hair style.
The first BIONICLE film, Mask of Light, is released and proves to be a big success.
In January, the LEGO Group announces the results of 2003 – a huge deficit. Owner and CEO Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen heads up the building
of an action plan to turn around the company. In October he appoints Jørgen Vig Knudstorp as new CEO of the company.
The year ends with another huge deficit due to heavy write-downs.
The LEGO Group and Ferrari launch an agreement to make LEGO sets based on the iconic race cars.
The DUPLO trade mark is relaunched as a result of consumer requests.
LEGO Factory at www.LEGO.com enables you to create your own model and buy the LEGO elements required to build it.
The LEGOLAND parks are sold to Merlin Entertainments. The parent company of the LEGO Group – KIRKBI –
buys a share of Merlin Entertainments. Today KIRKBI owns approx. one third of Merlin. The LEGO Group posts a profit again.
The company is back on track. CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp launches a five-year strategy plan (Shared Vision) for the LEGO Group.
The LEGO Group sets up its LEGO Ambassador Progamme to create closer ties between the company and LEGO Fans.
LEGO Factory at www.lego.com enables you to design your own model and then buy the LEGO elements you need to build it online.
The LEGO Group announces plans to outsource major parts of production to external partners.
The LEGO plant in Willisau (Switzerland) closes.
www.LEGO.com averages more than 8 million aggregated daily unique visitors per month.
The visitors spend an average of about 28 minutes at LEGO.com.
CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp publicly announces Shared Vision – an action plan for the company until 2010.
The LEGO Group celebrates its 75th anniversary on 10 August in good shape.
LEGO Club has approx. 2.6 million members.
All distribution for the European and Asian markets is gathered in one distribution center in the Czech Republic.
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. Number of elements included: 5,195 pieces.
The LEGO brick celebrates its 50th anniversary.
While maintaining production in production 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.
The Taj Mahal is launched – containing the largest number of bricks so far: 5,922 bricks.
LEGO owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen is inducted to the Toy Industry Hall of Fame (US).
The LEGO Group is now the world’s fifth largest toy manufacturer in terms of sales.
Warner Bros. and the LEGO Group announce plans to develop the first-ever feature film based on LEGO bricks and icons.
The LEGO Group announces a multi-year partnership with Disney Consumer Products obtaining exclusive rights to
construction toys based on the entire portfolio of Disney and Disney Pixar properties. A completely new product line
– LEGO Games – is launched. The line consists of a series of board games that can be played by the whole family.
Pilot launch in the UK and Germany. Rest of world to follow.
Online game LEGO Universe launches.
The World’s largest LEGO Mosaic is assembled in London.
It measures 15,3 x 6,4 meters and consists of 384.000 LEGO Bricks
and 1500 building plates and the motif is several Star Wars figures.
LEGOLAND Florida opens. The world’s largest LEGOLAND Park.
The LEGO Group launches its first appcessory “Life of George”.
The LEGO Group is now the world’s third largest toy manufacturer in terms of sales.
“Step Up”: Organisational change in order to prepare the LEGO Group for future growth and to make it more adaptable and competitive.
Corporate Management changes from 6 to 22 persons.
LEGO Universe closes as well as DesignbyME, because the two product lines are not sustainable.
LEGO Education becomes a separate subsidiary under LEGO A/S.
The LEGO Group continues its growth and presents strong annual results for 2012, nearly tripling the sales of 2007.
LEGO MINDSTORMS celebrates its 15thbirthday and launches its 3rd generation:
LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 – powered by the new EV3 Intelligent Brick.
The LEGO Group opens a sales office in Beijing, China and a new main office in Singapore.
LEGO Brand Retail Store number 100 opens in White Plains, USA.
In the beginning of February, The LEGO Movie premieres in a number of countries. The movie is written by Phil Lord and Chris Miller and
produced by Warner Brothers. It is the first time the LEGO universe has been pictured in a movie. As part of the strategy to expand
the company’s global presence, the LEGO Group announces that in addition to the headquarters in Billund (Denmark),
main offices will be established in London (England), Enfield (USA), Singapore and Shanghai (China).
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. The LEGO name celebrates its 80th birthday. In 1934 the founder of the company
– Ole Kirk Kristiansen – launched a competition to find a suitable name for the company.
He won the competition himself by combining the first two letters of the words LEg and GOdt into the name “LEGO”.
The LEGO Group and the LEGO Foundation enter a three-year partnership with UNICEF to protect children’s rights and change the way
in which children learn. The offshore wind farm, Borkum Riffgrund 1, of which 32 percent is owned by the LEGO Group opens in October.
LEGO® products are now sold in more than 140 countries. The first elements are moulded in the new LEGO Group factory in Jiaxing, China.
The first packing lines are put into operation in September 2015 and the first box packed in Jiaxing is the LEGO City Police Station.