January 28, 1958, 1:58 pm CET, a Patent was filed: That day, an express courier walked into the office of patent agency Hofman-Bang & Boutard in Copenhagen, with a piece of paper, on which was drawn the specifications for the LEGO brick – all studs and tubes, and a hand glued mock up of the 2×4 brick.
We now know there were around 5 days in between the initial idea behind adding the tubes to improve the clutch power and the filing of the actual patent. Godfredt Kirk Christiansen, the second generation owner of the company, had been in a meeting with colleagues: his brother Karl Georg and the head ofthe German sales office, Axel Thomsen. The latter had brought news of complaints from his customers about the way that the bricks did not hold together well.
They had sat down, with the intention to solve the issue of clutch power, and its apparent absence. (I like to imagine that the solution was sketched out on the back of a napkin, but historians have revealed this to be nothing more than personal whimsy).
On his way home from filing this document, which showed bricks with 2 tubes on the underside (amongst other things), Godtfred realised that this idea could be greatly enhanced therough the addition of a third tube. Returning to Billund, he had Ove Nielsen, who managed the injection moulding shop, glue together a prototype based on the 2 tube moulds they had initially lodged with the original application..
The patent is not for the studs and tubes that give us the clutch power we take for granted, but rather for a system of bricks that meant that several interlocking bricks “…could be put together in a great number of mutually different positions…” (Quote from the original Danish Patent application).
This year represents the 65th anniversary of the filing of this patent. Last year we saw the celebration of 90 years of play: classic themes revisited and celebrated, this week we have even seen the release of a reimagined Bionicle figure.
I wonder what else this year will bring? Time will tell. Why not speculate and dream in the comments below and until next time,