yellow lego manMaybe you never heard of Ole Kirk Christiansen, but you’ve handled thousands of his inventions and seen the smash hit The Lego Movie and its sequels, so this is your day too,


Ole Kirk Christiansen (April 7, 1891 –  March 11, 1958) was a maker of wooden toys from Denmark who began making plastic toys in 1947, leading him to create his little interlocking plastic bricks and registering them with the US Patent Office as “Lego” on this day in 1958.

Ole died suddenly 2 months later and didn’t live to see the phenomenal success of Lego, but his four sons carried on and have now produced about a trillion of them.

Whose child or grandchild doesn’t have thousands of the things? They build square little houses, square little cars and teetering square towers, then wreck them like little Godzillas, kicking them all over the house. If there are young ones in your family, you have seen The Lego Movie 50 times, with its already-legendary earwig of a song, “Everything Is Awesome” ringing in your head.

The company is now called “The Lego Group,” and still headquartered in Billund, Denmark. Their only product is Lego. When you sell $3 billion worth of the damned things every year in spite of competition from cheap knockoffs, why do anything else?

There’s not a kid alive that doesn’t love Legos, and the words Mom and Dad shout when they step on one barefoot.

•Suggested Activities: Building a square Taj Mahal, and trying to get “Everything Is Awesome” out of your head.

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