Discover the secret program that propelled LEGO into the 21st century

The LEGO Group has one foot planted firmly in the digital arena in 2021 – but did you know that it actually took its first steps on that journey all the way back in 1995, in a secret lab at LEGO HQ?

That’s the story tackled in the latest episode of the Bits N’ Bricks podcast, which dives into the history of Strategic Product Unit Darwin, the program that propelled the LEGO Group into the 21st century and the digital age.

From 1995 through 1999, Darwin (as it was colloquially known) had the power to sidestep corporate policy and fast-track advances in LEGO technology. And the trust the LEGO Group’s execs placed in the program’s members paid off, laying the groundwork for LEGO.com, MINDSTORMS, LEGO video games and more.

You can find out more about how Darwin came to be, the work done by the team and the program’s long-term impact by hitting play on the video above, or seeking out the Bits N’ Bricks podcast on your preferred streaming service. Alternatively, check out this long-abandoned blog started by one of the program’s members in 2013.

Last week’s episode of Bits N’ Bricks dove into the history of the relatively recent Overwatch theme (which is rumoured to be making a comeback in 2021), while next week’s episode – based on the original schedule – will wrap up the list of planned instalments by celebrating the 25th anniversary of LEGO Games.

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Chris Wharfe

I like to think of myself as a journalist first, LEGO fan second, but we all know that’s not really the case. Journalism does run through my veins, though, like some kind of weird literary blood – the sort that will no doubt one day lead to a stress-induced heart malfunction. It’s like smoking, only worse. Thankfully, I get to write about LEGO until then. You can follow me on Twitter at @brfa_chris.

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