Ole & Godtfred Kirk Christiansen

LEGO

BRICKWORK: Godtfred, at left, and Ole's toys have entertained millions of children

Danish carpenter and toymaker Ole Kirk Christiansen and his son Godtfred were designing old-fashioned toys when, in 1947, they came across a product designed by British child psychologist Hilary (Harry) Fisher Page: small plastic blocks with interlocking studded tops and hollow bottoms. The Christiansens, who called their company Lego — a contraction of leg godt (play well in Danish) — started making their own version, which they eventually called Lego Bricks.

The key to Lego's success was the way the bricks fitted together. Early versions were either too hard to take apart or did not lock firmly enough....

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