The origins of LEGO Mindstorms

I recently learned that around two years after announcing the Mindstorms Robot Inventor, LEGO discontinued the Mindstorms brand in 2022.

It is sad because I've always thought LEGO Mindstorms was a great way to build robots by focusing on the creative and programming aspects while removing the complex hardware involved in a non-LEGO robot.

Reading a bit about its history, it is surprising how old it is and its origin, so here are some highlights I found interesting:

  • It all began with the Logo programming language, which was created in 1967! I used the the Turtle Logo Pascal library (Turtle Graphics?) to draw figures and spirals in high school.

  • The Technic Control Center, in 1985, was the first combination of LEGO with a programming language.

  • "Logo Blocks" were the predecessors of "RCX Code" and later evolutions, a purely visual program control flow language, by adding and linking visual blocks that represented loops, conditionals, sensor values, and the like.

  • The first LEGO Mindstorms product appeared in 1998 (the Robotics Invention System, aka "yellow brick"), but the name comes from a 1980 book, Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas.

  • The yellow brick was the first model commercialized to the public, but before it existed both a red brick and a grey brick:

grey, red and yellow LEGO programmable bricks (from Wikipedia)

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Tags: Development

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