Lego has got the interlocking toy brick market locked down, and in the half-century since launching their signature product, they’ve gone from mere toymaker to outright cultural force. We tend to think of them as the toy brick company. So I was surprised to learn that they were not the first to market interlocking bricks for children, nor the second, nor the third. They were the seventh.
… [In the video above] Lego enthusiast and reviewer known as JangBricks breaks down the history of interlocking toy bricks.
I found the second half of the video interesting, as you really get to see how poorly the instructions were presented by Lego’s predecessors.
It makes you realize that Lego has really triumphed from an information design perspective; while I couldn’t locate instructions from early days of Legos, by at least the 1970s they were presenting things almost completely visually, eliminating any language barrier.
That Lego copied their initial design is not in question. It’s also undeniable that in subsequent years they added their own innovations, eventually building the empire and market dominance that they enjoy today. Which makes me wonder: Do you think that any of the modern-day knockoff companies that we typically associate with China will be able to follow the same path? And in your opinion, at what point does an outright copy have enough innovation added to it that it gains legitimacy in the popular consciousness?
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.