Design moment: Lego, 1949
Lego bricks were marketed from the beginning as toys for boys and girls and, because of their size and the dexterity, were aimed at over sixes Photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The name that carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen gave his toy invention Lego was inspired by the Danish for “play well” – leg godt . His first toys were wooden – bricks and a pull-along duck – but having bought one of the first plastic injection moulding machines in Denmark in 1947, he was able two years later to offer a range of plastic building blocks, called Automatic Binding Bricks, in four primary colours and connecting together with a stud system.
It is thought he was inspired in his design by the British Kiddicraft Self-Locking Building Bricks. In 1953 he renamed his bricks, Lego, and in 1954 registered his trademark in Denmark. The company evolved and grew, especially under Ole’s son Godtfred who offered Lego sets and car kits. Improved design in the 1950s – with hollow tubes on the underside – gave the bricks improved lockability and made large building projects possible.
The bricks were marketed from the beginning as toys for both boys and girls and, because of their size and the dexterity, were aimed at over sixes. Large bricks called Duplo were offered from 1969 for younger children.