Danish inventor Ole Kirk Christiansen invented and marketed LEGOS to make a living during the Great Depression. He also invented other items deemed essential, including ironing boards and step stools.
Despite the eventual success of the LEGO company, Ole Kirk Christiansen began his career as an impoverished craftsman. His financial situation limited the variety and quantity of products produced and left him able, at first, only to produce items deemed essential to support the lives and livelihoods of surrounding community members.
Christiansen initially created products on a seasonal basis, constructing wooden summer homes during the warmer months and wooden furniture during the winter. His practice, like many, suffered during the 1930s, forcing Christiansen to limit production to toys, milking equipment and small furniture.
The toys, contrary to Christiansen's expectations, proved the most popular items, and demand soon increased. In response, Christiansen and his four sons (enlisted to help their father's business) focused primarily on making toys. The family purchased an injection molding machine following World War II to expedite toy production, and sold the trinkets under the brand name LEGO.
The name LEGO combines two Danish words, "leg" and "godt," which mean to "play well" in Danish, and "I study, I put together" in Latin. Sales of Lego toys increased, allowing the company to acquire a large workforce in Denmark and eventually establish production and manufacturing facilities in Europe and overseas.