Lego Turns 50 Today

Today is the 50th anniversary of the filing of the patent for Lego bricks.

The Google logo received a Lego treatment today.

I received my first Lego set 34 years ago—number 480, the Rescue Helicopter—at age 5, as a Christmas gift from friend-and-neighbor Chuck Altwein. I quickly learned to completely assemble and disassemble the model without the directions. This was followed by set number 135 that year from my parents (too small a set, but I do not blame them), and many, many others, including some of my favorites, 190, 404 (which still gets my vote for best classic building set), and the 487 Space Cruiser, which was one of a trilogy of sets that opened Lego’s hugely popular (and still running) space line. (This line also introduced the modern Lego minifigure, or minifig.)

Lego forever changed my childhood, as I spent nearly every Saturday morning surrounded by Lego. One of the worst punishments I ever received was when I got frustrated trying to build a truck, and threw the partially completed assembly across the room. My Mom put my Lego in the attic for a week, and I learned to control my temper better. (I recall an incident with Isaac, at around age 4 or 5, where he had his Lego taken away for something similar, and he cried for 3 1/2 hours straight.)

I continue to build with Lego with my kids on rainy days at home, and lead a Lego robotics group that meets once a week at work (where I am known by the nickname LegoDoug). We have completed one project using the original RIS/RCX, and are switching to the NXT this week, thanks to Nichelle’s wonderful anniversary gift.

My boys are crazy about Lego Bionicle and the Lego Star Wars lines, and even NaNi loves to build, and I can’t think of any toy that has provided so much innovative playtime.

Check out some coverage on Gizmodo, Slashdot, Time, and this Lego timeline on Wikipedia.

Following are images of some of my favorite bits of my own Lego history.

I lobbied shamelessly and amorally for this one Christmas. It was Lego’s largest set to date.

One of Lego’s best sets ever, which included a Lego motor.

The Lego Space Cruiser, an unquestionable classic.

Lego’s first castle set.

The first Lego robotics kit, and a little piece of history.

An iconic robot constructed from the new Lego NXT robotics kit.

One Reply to “Lego Turns 50 Today”

  1. I heard about Lego’s b’day on NPR tonight. I meant to tell you that both grandsons got their first sets for Christmas…and both were very happy to get them!

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