Looking at Lego's most impressive creations -- its giant "Star Wars" sets, its Master Builder Academy initiative, its programmable Mindstorms system -- it's easy to forget that it was 80 years ago that the global behemoth had much more humble beginnings when Ole Kirk Christiansen started a little wooden toy company in Billund, Denmark.
Today, Lego is celebrating its 80th birthday, and touting its growth from a tiny outfit in a single building in Billund to the world's third-largest "producer of play materials," employing 10,000 people, many in its variety of production facilities in Europe and beyond.
As the company is fond of pointing out, "Lego" comes from the combination of two Danish words, "leg" and "godt," meaning "play well." And in the early years, when it was focusing its energies on wooden toys, it was by no means a world-changer. … Read more