Ole Kirk Christiansen was a skilled carpenter in Billund, Denmark. The year 1932 was a difficult one for Ole. There was a global economic crisis and he couldn’t make ends meet with the little money he had.
Ole then came up with the idea of making wooden toys like cars and aeroplanes for children. The first order which Ole received didn’t come to fruition because the company which had placed the order went bankrupt. Ole did not lose heart but took upon himself to sell the toys. Ole’s son Godtfred started helping him after school. They together started the company LEGO® in 1934. LEGO® is an abbreviation of ‘LEg GOdt’ which means ‘play well’ in Danish. Thus Ole laid the foundation of the world’s leading toy making companies.
Ole never compromised on the quality of the toys, ensuring the very best for children. One day his son, Godtfred took a batch of painted wooden ducks to the railway station. He came back to his father and told him that he had saved the company money by applying two coats of paint instead of three. Ole immediately asked him to fetch the ducks back, apply the last coat of paint, pack them and take them back to the station.
The company bought its first injection-moulding machine in 1947, and that year Ole and his son Godtfred entered the world of plastic-toy production. They used cellulose acetate as raw material to make a small fish (in the form of a baby’s rattle) – their first plastic toy.
In 1949, the first interlocking plastic bricks were marketed under the name ‘Automatic Binding Bricks’. These bricks were the forerunner of the LEGO® bricks we know today.
LEGO® has come a long way, from a small carpenter’s workshop to being the world’s largest manufacturer of toys.
- Book: 1001 Inventions That Changed The World – LEGO®, Pg. 750