The Timeline

Early history
1891 — The Kirk Christiansens
Ole Kirk Christiansen is born in Filskov, Denmark.
Ole, at the age of 14, is apprenticed to an older brother to learn carpentry.
Ole leaves Denmark to work abroad as a carpenter, first in Germany, then in Norway.
1916 — Billund Maskinsnedkeri og Tømreforretning
Ole returns to Denmark and, using his savings, buys the Billund Maskinsnedkeri og Tømreforretning. Around this same time he marries Kirstine Sörensen and they soon begin a family.
Godtfred, Ole and Kirstine's third child, is born.
Karl Georg and Godtfred set fire to the shop. Ole Kirk rebuilds.
The first wood toys and the birth of Lego
1932 — Wooden Toys
In the middle of the Great Depression, Ole begins to make small household items and finally, wooden toys. The same year Godtfred begins working with his father in the business.
1934 — LEGO
With toys now the primary focus of the business, Ole holds a contest for a new name. He chooses his own entry: LEGO.
1940 — World War II
Germany invades Denmark and Norway in Operation Weserübung. For the next five years Denmark would be under German occupation.
The Lego factory and warehouse burn down. As before, Ole rebuilds and carries on. The new factory would be the first designed for assembly line production.
LEGO incorporates in Denmark under the name Legetøjfabriken LEGO Billund A/S.
Plastic toys and the Automatic Binding Bricks
1947 — Kiddicraft
Hilary Fisher Page begins marketing the Kiddicraft Self-Locking Building Brick in England. It was the forerunner of the Lego brick. In December, Godtfred and Edith's second child and only son, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, is born.
1949 — The Automatic Binding Brick
After two years of development Lego produces it's first plastic toys. Among these is a plastic brick named the Automatic Binding Brick.
1950 — Godtfred Kirk Christiansen
Godtfred is named as Junior Managing Director.
Ole suffers a stroke, beginning the decline in his health.
Lego Mursten
1952 — Lego Mursten
Lego changes the name from Automatic Binding Bricks to Lego Mursten, but sales of the bricks continue to be slow.
1953 — Export
Lego licenses its brick molds to Svein Strømberg A/S in Norway; the first true attempt at exporting. Plastic toys now account for half the company's revenue.
The System i Leg
1955 — System i Leg
After a year of development Godtfred introduces the System i Leg. It would be one of the two most important innovations in company history.
1956 — Germany
Lego begins true exporting: LEGO Spielwaren GmbH is established in Hohenwestedt, Germany. It would be the first of many foreign subsidiaries.
1957 — Jubilee Year
Lego celebrates its 25th anniversary. Godtfred is named Managing Director, Karl Georg the director of plastics production and Gerhardt the director of wood products manufacturing.
The Lego System and the modern brick
1958 — The Lego System
Ole dies in March and Godtfred is named the new director. Later in the year a new stud and tube coupling is introduced, creating the modern Lego brick. It would be the most important innovation in the company's history.
1959 — Bilofix
Futura, a product development group is established. The sales organization is split into the Lego and Bilofix divisions. Lego licenses the Lego System to the Courtaulds Group in the UK.
1960 — The End of the Wooden Toys
The wood toy warehouse burns down and Godtfred decides, against the wishes of the rest of the family, to discontinue all non-System toys. Within two years the three other brothers would leave the company.
Godtfred’s Global conquest
1961 — Samsonite
Lego licenses the system to the Schwayder Brothers in the US. It would turn out to be the most contentious of the foreign licensing agreements.
1962 — Bilofix Revisited
After leaving Lego the previous year, Gerhardt moves to Kolding and starts Bilofix, his own wooden toy company. By the mid 1960’s the Bilofix system would be sold in most of Europe.
1962 — The Wheel
Lego Futura creates the Lego wheel, the first of many developments. Lego also begins a process development lab. It’s first recommendation is a change in plastic to ABS, which was phased into production the next year.
1963 — Modulex
Godtfred starts a separate company, Modulex, to produce architectural and industrial planning bricks. Lego introduces it’s own architectural sets. Over time, Modulex would prove more sucessful. Lego establishes Interlego AG, the Swiss part of the company.
1964 — The Airport
Godtfred donates the Lego airstrip to the neighboring communities, the result was the Billund Airport. Lego exhibits at the 1964 World’s Fair. The first sets with the modern instructions are released.
Expanding the range
1965 — Gear Wheels
Manufacturing capacity increases and Futura increases the pace of new development. They introduce the gear wheels, which were only marketed in North America.
1966 — The Lego Train
Lego markets it’s first true electric motor. This development lead the way for the introduction of a Lego train. The trains would become one of the most enduring of the Lego themes and are sold to this day.
1967 — The New Scale
Lego finally drops the scale of the Town Plan and standardizes on a new building scale: the “minifig” scale, which would be used to this day.
1968 — Legoland
After several years of planning and construction, Godtfred opens his own theme park next to the factory in Billund. Despite its remote locaton, Legoland would become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Denmark.
1969 — Duplo
Lego revisits the pre-school block and develops the fully compatable Duplo System. It was the basis of a complete line of toys for a market previously untapped by the company: newborns through 6 years old.
1970 — Hanne, Holck, and Kjeld
After a family crisis Godtfred considers selling the company, this would lead to major management changes. Kjeld, the third generation, began his studies for a business degree.
1971 — Minitalia
The Italian Parliment restricts the import of Lego, they respond with their own Italian manufacturing subsidiary; Lego Minitalia.
1972 — Child Psychology
The Duplo and Lego systems began to be studied for educational purposes. This research would eventually lead to Lego Dacta and the Lego Learning Institute.
1973 — Lego Systems, Inc.
After Samsonite relinquishes the US license Lego quickly sets up it‘s own subsidiary - Lego Systems, Inc. Within five years the US would become Lego‘s largest single market. Kjeld finishes school and joins Lego‘s managerial ranks.
1973 — Sierksdorf
A group of German investors approach Godtfred with the idea of licensing Legoland. The result, Legoland Sierksdorf, would be open for only three seasons.