400 million people play with these bricks every year. The distinctive cubes with their spikes and matching sockets have made a dizzying career, and their Danish manufacturer is today the largest toy manufacturer in the world. LEGO started with wooden toys - it was founded in 1932, when plastics were not yet in common use, and its founder, Ole Kirk Christiansen, was a carpenter.
The beginnings of a brilliant block
It was not until 1949 that the first LEGO bricks were made, resembling those of today. However, they were empty on the underside, which meant that the constructions made of them did not sin with stability. The problem was solved by inserting a tube at the bottom. The story could have turned out differently because one of the British companies had been producing similar bricks since the late 1930s. She had a patent for them, but only valid in the UK. So the Danes could use the British idea, and after some time they could also obtain patent rights. The very idea of producing blocks in a 4 ×2 system turned out to be brilliant. Two such blocks can be connected together in 24 ways. Four blocks already give almost 120 thousand combinations, and when there are seven blocks the number of possible combinations exceeds 85 billion.
Between 1955 and 1968, the company produced models of plastic and metal cars in 1:87 scale and additional elements such as models of petrol stations, street lamps, road signs etc. LEGO bricks were used to build garages for these cars.
Summoners and defendants
The growing expansion of the company has led, understandably, to legal problems. The system of linking blocks has found many followers, so even before the courts of the highest instance there were proceedings for copyright and patent protection. The judges finally decided that the pad and socket system, typical of LEGO pads, has only a technical function and therefore cannot be protected. This is not an invention of the Danes - similar solutions were known as early as in the 19th century. Famous and popular companies always have their critics using current trends. Today, for example, some people have reservations about products that allegedly manifest gender stereotypes, e.g. through the significant share of pink in the girls' series.
It's nothing like a classic
At the beginning of the 21st century the company started to make losses. The reason was to move away from the classic subject matter, adored by children, to fashionable subjects such as Star Wars or Harry Potter, and to abandon the Duplo and Legoland brands. The crisis lasted about two years and ended with the return to the classics. Today, the company's annual turnover is approx. 3.5 billion euros.
LEGO bricks can be bought, among others, in Merlin's online bookstore. The choice is huge, with several hundred items.
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