Ole Kirk Christiansen

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Ole Kirk Christiansen
First leader and founder of The Lego Group
In office
10 August 1932 (1932-08-10) – 11 March 1958 (1958-03-11)
Succeeded byGodtfred Kirk Christiansen
Personal details
Born(1891-04-07)7 April 1891
Filskov, South Jutland, Denmark
Died11 March 1958(1958-03-11) (aged 66)
Billund, Denmark
Kirstine Christiansen
(m. 1916; died 1932)
Children4 (including Godtfred)
Known forFounding the Lego company.

Ole Kirk Christiansen (7 April 1891 – 11 March 1958) was a Danish carpenter. In 1932, Christiansen founded the Danish construction toy company The Lego Group.[1]

Early years[edit]

Christiansen / the maker of lego was born in Filskov, South Jutland, Denmark, the 10th child of an impoverished family in Jutland. Although in poverty, he was able to receive a basic high-school education.[1] He turned to work in a factory, then eventually transitioned to woodwork and afterwards a master-carpenter.[2]

Early work[edit]

In 1905, when Christiansen was 14, he began working as an apprentice to his brother. In 1911 he left Denmark and went to work in carpentry for five years in Germany.[1] Christiansen bought the Billund Woodworking and Carpentry Shop with money he had saved, and made profitable sales over the years.[3] He married the daughter of a Norwegian cheese-maker, Kristine Sorensen. Together, they had four children: Johannes, Karl, Godtfred and Gerhardt.[1]

First Fire[edit]

In 1924, Karl and Godtfred began to tinker with wood shavings. A fire broke out consequently. Both the factory and their home burned down.[4][1]

Beginnings of LEGO[edit]


During the early 1930s , Ole's business fell into the Great Depression as its peak rose in Denmark. Ole was able to make items such as Christmas tree stands and toys.[1] His business was becoming slow. The primary income, which was from sales of ladders and ironing boards, was shrinking in demand.[5] Eventually, Ole had to dismiss his last worker, and his wife died.[6] Ole decided to officially found an unnamed company (later to become LEGO) in 1932.[7][8]

Sales in the Depression[edit]

Christiansen's company began to focus primarily on the production of toys. The company used the highest quality of birch wood and sold a great variety of toys. Ole earned a reputation for his work and maintained steady sales. This just managed to carry profits during the depression.[1] Godtfred became Ole's second-in-command.[citation needed]

LEGO name[edit]

Christiansen wanted a name for the group. In 1934, he launched a competition to name the company. The prize was a bottle of his own homemade wine. He created his own name, Lego, and he won it himself.[failed verification] Lego is a shortened form of the Danish words Leg godt, meaning "play well", and the company grew to become The Lego Group.[9]

1940s and 1950s[edit]

Christiansen's company expanded throughout the 1940s and 1950s. In 1947, he purchased a self-moulding machine and began production of plastic toys. His son Godtfred became managing director and later CEO. All of Ole's sons assisted in his company, and in 1958 the LEGO Brick patent was created.[1]


On 11 March 1958, Christiansen experienced a heart attack and died at the age of 66, and his third son Godtfred promptly took over the company until his death in 1995.[10][11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Famous Inventors, Ole Kirk Christiansen
  2. ^ MIT Lemelson Program, Ole Kirk Christiansen
  3. ^ https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/christiansen-ole-kirk, Ole Kirk Christiansen's Shop Purchase
  4. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5xLRj035BI, A LEGO Brickumentary, LEGO Company's Story
  5. ^ https://astrumpeople.com/ole-kirk-christiansen-biography/, LEGO Company Story
  6. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdDU_BBJW9Y, The LEGO Story (80th anniversary) by LEGO. Timestamp: 0:29
  7. ^ Business, Jack Guy, CNN. "Lego minifigure creator Jens Nygaard Knudsen dies". CNN. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  8. ^ https://www.thoughtco.com/ole-kirk-christiansen-lego-1991644, Lego was founded in 1932
  9. ^ Mary Bellis (1 May 1954). "Timeline: Lego Group". Inventors.about.com. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  10. ^ "Timeline of Ole's life". Lego and Ole Kirk Christiansen. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  11. ^ "Inventor of the Week: Ole Kirk Christiansen". Lemelson-MIT Program. December 2004. Archived from the original on 27 May 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2018.