LEGO Timeline.

1891    

Ole Kirk Christiansen was born.

 

1916    

Ole Kirk Christiansen begins working as carpenter in Billund.

 

1920   

Godtfred Kirk Christiansen was born.

 

1924   

The workshop in Billund burned down.

1932
Ole Kirk Christiansen, 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.

1934
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 places the following motto on the workshop wall: "Only the best is good enough".

Selected Product News 1935
The LEGO Duck
Clothes hangers (Dagny Holm design)

Selected Product News 1936
Numskull Jack on the goat

1937
Godfred Kirk Christiansen starts creating models. He is 17 years old.

1939
The shop now has 10 employees.

1940
Denmark occupied by the Germans. Godfred Kirk Christiansen does not travel to Germany to study as planned. Instead, he becomes manager at LEGO.

1942
The LEGO factory burns to the ground, however, the production of wooden toys is quickly resumed.

1943
The firm has approx. 40 employees.

Selected Product News 1946
Wooden bricks with decorations (letters and figures)

1947
The LEGO Group is the first in Denmark to buy a plastic injection-moulding machine for toy production. The machine costs 30.000 Danish Crowns. By comparison, the revenue of the firm this year is 450.000 Danish Crowns.

Selected Product News 1947
Plastic ball for infants
The educational traffic board game "Monypoli"

1948
LEGO has 50 employees.

Selected Product News 1948
A game of Tiddlywinks

1949
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.

Selected Product News 1949
The LEGO Automatic Binding Brick with four and eight studs
A plastic fish
A plastic sailor

1950
Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, son of the founder, Ole Kirk Christiansen, is appointed Junior Vice President the day he turns 30.

1951
The first ever film about LEGO is shot. The photographer is Chistian Lund, and the film is black and white with no sound.
Plastic toys account for half of the company's output.

Selected Product News 1951
The building base with 10 x 20 studs
The plastic tractor (Ferguson)

1952
Ole Kirk's plans to expand and a plant is built. It cost 350.000 Danish Crowns.
The company now has its first canteen!

Selected Product News 1952
Big plastic and wooden cars

1953
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 1st of May 1954.

1954
The word LEGO is officially registered in Denmark on 1st May.
Godfred 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 GKC.

Selected Product News 1954
The Beam brick
LEGO windows and doors

1955
After further developing the LEGO Bricks, the company launches the revolutionary "LEGO System of Play".
The first real export of LEGO begins. First country is Sweden.
Godfred Kirk Christiansen demonstrates the new product at a toy fair in Nuremberg, Germany. Reaction are not positive.

Selected Product News 1955
LEGO System of Play: 28 sets and 8 vehicles plus supplementary elements

1956
The first foreign sales company is established in Hohenwestedt, Germany.
The company buys its first own truck.

Selected Product News 1956
Bicyclists and motorcyclists (little plastic figures)

1957
Godtfred Kirk Christiansen is appointed Managing Director.
LEGO Schweiz is established.

Selected Product News 1957
Plastic Tractor
A LEGO brick with light inside

1958
Ole Kirk Christiansen passes away and Godtfred Kirk Christiansen becomes head of the company.
The first telex machine and photocopier in Billund.
140 employees in Billund.

Selected Product News 1958
The current LEGO stud-and-tube coupling system is patented. The new coupling principle makes models much more stable.
Sloping (roof tile) bricks

1959
Futura, the product-development department, now has five members of staff.
A market analysis department is established.
Photography department 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 50.000 Danish Crowns for a sports ground.

Selected Product News 1959
Bilo-fix (wood + plastic)

1960
The wooden toy warehouse is destroyed by fire. Production of wooden toys is discontinued entirely.
App. 450 employees in Billund.
LEGO Finland and LEGO Nederland established.

1961
The LEGO Group invents the wheel! It is marketed in the following year.
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 (one or two days).
LEGO Italy established.
Godfred 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.

Selected Product News 1961
The wheel
Terapi I, II and III (pre-school products)

1962
Sales start in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Marocco and Japan.
LEGO Australia established.
The first personnel manager hired.

Selected Product News 1962
The Measurement line

1963
Godfred Kirk Christiansen presents the company to the ten product characteristics:

  1. Unlimited play potential
  2. For girls and for boys
  3. Fun for every age
  4. Year-round play
  5. Healthy, quiet play
  6. Long hours of play
  7. Development, imagination, creativity
  8. The more LEGO, the greater the value
  9. Extra sets available
  10. Quality in every detail

LEGO Austria established.
Procurement department established.
INTERLEGO AG established in Switzerland.
The first international company film, "Mr. Johnson from Australia", is produced.

1964
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 opened.

Selected Product News 1964
LEGO Model cars
Jumbo bricks (produced by Samsonite in the USA)

1965
First sales in Spain.
More than 600 employees in Billund.

1966
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.

Selected Product News 1966
The battery-driven LEGO Train

1967
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.

Selected Product News 1967
The DUPLO brick

1968
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 pay administration. The machine cost 85.000 Danish Crowns.

1969
The DUPLO series for under-fives is launched internationally.
843 employees in Billund.
The first LEGOLAND film.

Selected Product News 1969
The 12-volt motor joins the Train series.

1970
Almost 1000 employees in Billund.

Selected Product News 1970
The coloured cogwheels
LEGO Impulse boxes (cars)

1971
First sales to the Far East.

Selected Product News 1971
Doll house elements incl. furniture
The inspirational book "We play with LEGO"

1972
The license agreement with Samsonite ends in the US.
The Information & Public Relations department established.

Selected Product News 1972
New LEGOLAND cars
4,4 V train (re-launch)

1973
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 established in Brookfield, Connecticut.
LEGO Portugal 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.

Selected Product News 1973
LEGOLAND ships
The London Bus
Doll's house units, together with furniture components

1974
LEGO Spain established.
LEGO Overseas A/S established.
LEGO Futura ApS 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.

Selected Product News 1974
The LEGO family figures

1975
LEGO USA moves from Brookfield to Enfield, Connecticut.
Procurement in the US established.
The LEGO Group has 2500 employees.
LEGO Portugal established.
English becomes official corporate language.

Selected Product News 1975
The Expert Series

1976
LEGOLAND Sieksdorf is closed.
Sculpturer Robert Jacobsen's "LEGO" is revealed in Billund.

Selected Product News 1976
Harley Davidson motorcycle

1977
Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the third generation, joins the LEGO Group management.
LEGO Australia established.

Selected Product News 1977
LEGO TECHNIC
DUPLO doors, windows and "symbol" figures without arms and legs

1978
The first LEGO Road Show takes place in Dayton, Ohio. Later, this becomes the LEGO World Shows.
LEGO Japan (Nihon LEGO K.K.) established.
The first telefax is purchased (68.000 Danish Crowns).

Selected Product News 1978
LEGOLAND mini figures with movable arms and legs
Base plates with road markings
USS Constallation
The Castle

1979
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 established.

Selected Product News 1979
LEGOLAND Space
FABULAND
SCALA
DUPLO "house box"

1980
The Educational Products Department is established.
The DUPLO rabbit logo is introduced.
According to a survey, 70% of all Western European families with kids under 14 now have LEGO bricks in their home.

Selected Product News 1980
DUPLO pull-along and rocking toys for toddlers
DUPLO sound element

1981
First LEGO World Show in Denmark.
There is now a LEGO Strasse in Hohenwestedt, Germany.

Selected Product News 1981
Edward Elephant (FABULAND)
Educational programme (22 boxes)

1982
LEGO South Africa established.
The LEGO Fiction department established.

Selected Product News 1982
DUPLO Mosaic (educational)
Technic I (educational)

1983
3700 employees world wide.

Selected Product News 1983
DUPLO Baby series (incl. six rattles)
Big DUPLO figures with movable arms and legs
DUPLO Train
FABULAND books

1984
LEGO Brazil established.
LEGO Korea established.

Selected Product News 1984
The LEGOLAND Castle Series
Clive Crocodile (FABULAND)

1985
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.

Selected Product News 1985
DUPLO Farm
LEGO Technic Control (educational)
New range of LEGO trains

1986
The LEGO Group is granted the title "Purveyor to Her Majesty the Queen" on 16th April (the Birthday of H.M. Queen Margrethe of Denmark).
Godfred Kirk Christiansen resigns as chairman of the board of LEGO System A/S and LEGO Overseas. Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen takes over.
LEGO Fiction becomes LEGO Publishing.

Selected Product News 1986
The DUPLO Family (dog included)
The Technic figure
Light and Sound
Technic Computer Control (educational)

1987
The brick logo is developed.
Almost 6000 employees.
The LEGO office in South Africa is closed.

Selected Product News 1987
DUPLO and LEGO buckets
LEGOLAND Monorail
Playboard (DUPLO Baby)

1988
Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen introduces the LEGO Group vision (see else where on this web site).
The first official LEGO World Cup building championships are held in Billund in August.
LEGO Canada established.
The exhibition "The Art of LEGO" tours the United Kingdom.

Selected Product News 1988
DUPLO Circus
DUPLO Plane
Forest People
Black Star
LEGO clothing

1989
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).

Selected Product News 1989
The Pirate line
World People (LEGO Dacta)

1990
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 established.
LEGO Publishing is renamed LEGO Licensing.
The LEGOLAND Band issues an LP.
Professor Xavier Gilbet, IMD, Switzerland, is appointed LEGO Professor, Business Dynamics.

Selected Product News 1990
DUPLO Zoo
Model Team
LEGO Technic Control Center
LEGO Dacta composing kit

1991
Hotel Vis-a-Vis in Billund renovated and renamed Hotel LEGOLAND.
7550 employees.

Selected Product News 1991
Harbour theme (LEGO Town)
Ships (re-launch)
Flex-system elements (Technic)
9-V train (Travo controlled)

1992
A Guinness record in railway line construction is set - 545 metres 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 established.
LEGO Hungary established.
For the first time, a larger 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.

Selected Product News 1992
LEGO Town Paradisa theme
LEGO DUBLO Toolo
Truck with pneumatic elements (Technic)

1993
Building happening on the Red Square in Moscow in co-operation with the department store GUM.
LEGO South Africa re-established.
LEGO Kid's Wear launched.

Selected Product News 1993
Ice Planet 2002
Forklift truck (TECHNIC)
LEGO DUPLO 4,5-V Train with new rail system and sounds
The LEGO SYSTEM Basic Brickvac

1994
LEGO Mexico 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.
8880 employees world-wide.

Selected Product News 1994
LEGO Belville
Islanders (LEGO Pirate line)
Super-Car (LEGO TECHNIC)
Spyrius (Space)
DUPLO playhouse

1995
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.

Selected Product News 1995
LEGO DUPLO PRIMO (DUPLO BABY in North America)
LEGO FreeStyle
LEGO SYSTEM Aquazone
LEGO TECHNIC Control II
DUPLO play books

1996
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 organisation "The Hole in the Wall Gang".

Selected Product News 1996
Time Cruisers (LEGO SYSTEM)
Western (LEGO SYSTEM)
Exploriens (LEGO SYSTEM Space)
The children's magazine LEGO Clicks (France and Switzerland)

1997
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 1st January.
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.

Selected Product News 1997
LEGO SCALA
Diver theme (LEGO SYSTEM)
The Bat Castle (LEGO SYSTEM Castle)
UFO boxes (LEGO SYSTEM Space)
LEGO Island (software)
Yellow Submarine (LEGO TECHNIC)
LEGO DUPLO Dinosaurs

1998
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.

Selected Product News 1998
LEGO MINDSTORMS
LEGO TECHNIC CyberMaster
Eight new LEGO PRIMO sets
Res-Q (LEGO SYSTEM)
X-Treme (LEGO SYSTEM)
ZNAP
LEGO Mudhoppers (Kid's Wear)
LEGO Creator (software)
LEGO Chess (software)
LEGO Loco (software)

1999
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.

Selected Product News 1999
Star Wars (LEGO SYSTEM)
Rockraiders (LEGO SYSTEM)
Winnie the Pooh and Friends (LEGO DUPLO)
LEGO TECHNIC Slizers
ROBOLAB (educational)
LEGO Soft (educational)

2000
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 runs a DKK 1 billion deficit.

Selected Product News 2000
LEGO & Steven Spielberg MovieMaker Set (LEGO Studios)
Decoration foam (LEGO SCALA)
Grand Silver Champion (LEGO TECHNIC)
Speed Slammers (LEGO TECHNIC)
LEGO MyBot
LEGO Football (LEGO Soccer in the US)
The Musical Apple

2001
LEGO My World receives an important award in Germany for the best software learning product at the book fair in Frankfurt.
LEGO Serious Play is unveiled in the autumn.
Deficit is again turned to profit for LEGO Group.

Selected Product News 2001
LEGO BIONICLE (+ BIONICLE PC and Nintendo game)
LEGO DUPLO dolls
LEGO Bob the Builder
LEGO Harry Potter
Jack Stone
Alpha Team
Robotic Invention System 1,5 (LEGO MINDSTORMS)
LEGO My World (software)
Island 2 - The Brickster's Revenge (software)

2002
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).

Selected Product News 2002
Music Composer (LEGO EXPLORE)
Music Roller (LEGO EXPLORE)
Island Extreme Stunts (+ PlayStation game)
WilliamsF1 Racer
Galidor
SpyBotics

2003
On January 8th 2004 a record DKK 1,4 billion deficit for the fiscal year 2003 is announced. Organisational changes take place and Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the grandson of founder Ole Kirk Christiansen, returns to take a more active part in the daily running of LEGO Group.
Visitor record is broken again in the LEGOLAND park in Billund, Denmark. 1,63 million people pay a visit to the park during the season.
The LEGO mini figure celebrates its 25th birthday.
The BIONICLE film, Mask of Light, is released and proves to be a big success.
Representations of the LEGO mini figures Biff Starling and Sandy Moondust are the first earthlings to reach the planet Mars onboard the NASA Mars rovers "Spirit" and "Opportunity".
The LEGO Education Centre in Shanghai opens. The concept started in 2001, aimed at children from age three to age twelve. There are more than 80 LEGO Education Centres in Korea alone.
www.LEGO.com receives around four million visitors per month.

Selected Product News 2003
Make & Create
CLIKITS
DUPLO (Explore) Intelligent Train
DUPLO (Explore) TheatreStories
Back-hoe Loader w/ pneumatics (TECHNIC)
Little Robots
World City
LEGO Discovery
Knights' Kingdom
LEGO Spider-Man