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Lego bricks turn 50

Monday marks the 50th anniversary of the plastic bricks everyone knows and loves.

If you happen to have seen my work in the past, you may have noticed that I am a big fan of all things Lego.

Jarad Barkdoll participating in the San Francisco regional of the 2006 national master Lego model builder competition. Barkdoll is one of millions of regular Lego users. The iconic plastic brick turned 50 Monday. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Over the years, I've covered two national master Lego model builder competitions, visited Microsoft headquarters for a demonstration of Lego robots, written about the communities behind Lego robotics, and much more. Oh, and played with the bricks a lot myself, though certainly not nearly as much as some of the people I've met while writing about this wonderful toy.

I even have a friend whose car is covered in the colored bricks.

So when I found out last week that Monday is the 50th anniversary of the Lego brick--defined by the date, 50 years ago, when the patent for the brick was filed--I have to admit I was excited.

The Lego company plans to celebrate the anniversary with, among other things, a worldwide contest to discover the best kid Lego builder. Each country will have its own national champion, Lego promises, and these lucky kids will get the right to come to headquarters in Denmark to fight it out for the world title.

Having, as I said above, covered two adult U.S. national model builder competitions, I can tell you that these things are great. I don't know what Lego plans for the kids, but if it's like the adult version, they'll get some time to pull bricks from endless bins, and then a few hours to build something magical. They'll also have to all craft the same object, with the best models getting a leg up for later in the competition.

But this is just a way for the company to celebrate its anniversary. The real point is that the little plastic brick has meant something significant to endless millions of people around the world. And it all had to start somewhere. It happens that it started, by one measure, 50 years ago today.

I hope to be around to play with them for 50 more.