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Tuesday, January 27, 1998 Published at 10:25 GMT


Lego adds chips to old blocks
image: [ A new
A new "intelligent" Lego robot

One of the most traditional children's toys has finally gone hi-tech.

The latest version of Lego will have computer chips built into the little coloured building bricks.

The "intelligent" brick means children will be able to create moving robots and vehicles alongside the more traditional houses and buildings.

Programmed via a home computer, the bricks will respond to the instructions fed to them.

Lego's Danish makers said it will "revolutionise" children's learning and computer play. But they also said that it does not mean the old Lego is now out of date.

"We are exaggerating the values of the existing Lego system ... we can see a lot of new possibilities for children to have fun," said Torben Sorenson from Lego's Learning Division.

"We have opened up a new world where a child is able to construct behaviour," he said.

The bricks were developed at the Media Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston in the US.

However, some purists and parents are sure to be disappointed at the latest development to the toy first developed in 1949.

The computer chip is likely to push Lego prices up to the league of Nintendo and Sony Playststation.

In its classic form, Lego remained in the top 10 toys sold at Christmas for nearly 50 years. Last year the company made 67m profit.

So enduring is Lego's attraction that some adults just keep on playing. More than 60,000 Britons are signed-up members of the British Lego Club.

The name Lego comes from the Danish phrase 'leg godt' - meaning play well. By coincidence it also means "I assemble" in Latin.

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Internet Links

The Official Lego home page

Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Lego Robotics Seminar

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