LEGO® is a line of toys featuring colourful plastic Bricks, gears, minifigures (also called minifigs and figs), and other pieces which can be assembled to create models of almost anything imaginable. Cars, planes, trains, buildings, castles, sculptures, ships, spaceships, and even working robots are just part of a very short list of the many things that can be built with LEGO bricks. High production quality and careful attention to detail ensures that LEGO pieces can fit together in myriad ways, which is one of the main reasons for the toy's success.
The sets are produced by the LEGO Group, a privately-held company based in Denmark.
The LEGO Company had its beginnings in the workshop of Ole Kirk Christiansen, a poor carpenter from Billund, Denmark. Ole Kirk started creating wooden toys in 1932, but it wasn't until 1949 that the famous plastic LEGO brick was created.
The company name LEGO was coined by Christiansen from the Danish phrase leg godt, meaning "play well". The LEGO Group claims that "LEGO" means "I put together" or "I assemble" in Latin, though this is a rather liberal translation; the more accepted and widely used application of the word is "I read". It should be noted, however, that the original, Greek verb "legein" actually has the meaning "put together".
In 1947, Ole Kirk and his son Godtfred obtained samples of interlocking plastic bricks produced by the company Kiddicraft. These "Kiddicraft Self-Locking Building Bricks" were designed and patented in the UK by Mr. Hilary Harry Fisher Page, a child psychologist. A few years later, in 1949, LEGO began producing similar bricks, calling them "Automatic Binding Bricks." These bricks, manufactured from cellulose acetate, were developed in the spirit of traditional wooden blocks that could be stacked upon one another; however, these plastic bricks could be "locked" together. They had several round "studs" on top, and a hollow rectangular bottom. The blocks snapped together, but not so tightly that they couldn't be pulled apart.
The use of plastic for toy manufacture was not highly regarded by retailers and consumers of the time. Many of the LEGO Group's shipments were returned, following poor sales; it was thought that plastic toys could never replace the wooden monkeys.
By 1954, Christiansen's son, Godtfred, had become the junior managing director of the LEGO Group. It was his conversation with an overseas buyer that struck the idea of a toy system. Godtfred saw the immense potential in LEGO bricks to become a system for creative play, but the bricks still had some problems from a technical standpoint: their "locking" ability was limited, and they were not very versatile. It wasn't until 1958 that the modern-day brick design was developed, and it took another five years to find exactly the right material for it.
Over the years many more LEGO sets, series, and pieces were created, with many innovative improvements and additions, culminating in the colorful versatile building toys that we know today.
Soon after the Brick was invented, fans uses stop action software to make Brickfilms.