The LEGO brick turns 50 at exactly 1:58 p.m. today, January 28, 2008. This timeline shows these 50 years of building frenzy by happy kids and kids-at-heart, all the milestones from the LEGOLAND themed sets to TECHNIC and MINDSTORMS NXT, as well as all kinds of weird curiosities about the most famous stud-and-tube couple system in the world. Jump to zoom in and tell us what was your first LEGO in the comments.
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It all first started in 1947, when LEGO bought their first plastic injection machine. The brick was not invented then but took final form in 1958, when the shape of the stud-and-tube brick was patented. Since then, LEGO sets have been going through dozens of iterations, from the younger version, DUPLO, to the most sophisticated LEGO TECHNIC and LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT sets, going through all the different themes of LEGOLAND and, of course, the most successful line of all times according to LEGO, LEGO Star Wars.
LEGO brick curiosities
• There are about 62 LEGO bricks for every one of the world’s 6 billion inhabitants.
• Children around the world spend 5 billion hours a year playing with LEGO bricks.
• More than 400 million people around the world have played with LEGO bricks.
• LEGO bricks are available in 53 different colors.
• 19 billion LEGO elements are produced every year.
• 2.16 million LEGO elements are molded every hour, or 36,000 per minute.
• More than 400 billion LEGO bricks have been produced since 1949.
• Two eight-stud LEGO bricks of the same color can be combined in 24 different ways.
• Three eight-stud bricks can be combined in 1,060 ways.
• There are more than 915 million combinations possible for six 2 x 4 LEGO bricks of the same color.
• 7 LEGO sets are sold by retailers every second around the world.
• The LEGO bricks sold in one year would circle the world 5 times.
• 40 billion LEGO bricks stacked on top of one another would connect the earth with the moon.
• LEGO bricks are so much more than just toys. They are used in classrooms from preschool to university level to teach everything from math, language skills and science to engineering and technology principles.
• The LEGO brick has inspired generations of innovators, like Jonathan Gay, inventor of Flash.
• World-renowned author Douglas Coupland believes the LEGO brick represents a “language in itself.”
• A January 2008 Google search produces 57.6 million references to LEGO bricks.
• There are 55,600 LEGO videos on YouTube.
• Google co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, used LEGO bricks to build the external low-cost and expandable casing for 10 4GB hard disks when they were busy developing the Google search engine (today, they have reportedly been used in Google’s college graduate recruiting exercises to test potential candidate’s creative horsepower).
The first LEGO I remember—which I shared with my brothers and which my dad built for us, obviously without being able to contain his excitement—was a huge fair wheel, yellow. I don’t even know where that set is anymore, but I remember the armless minifigs. Or perhaps I’m dreaming. The very first LEGO we got, and which I remember building clearly, was the LEGOLAND Space Galaxy Explorer, which came along with three other sets, including a Rocket Launcher, the Space Shuttle and the Mobile Tracking Station. Do you remember your first LEGO set? Tell us in the comments.