The K'NEX History
I hate to rain on anyone's parade, but I will. The charming but apochryphal tale of two bored students developing the idea whilst stoned and playing with straws, is not the official K'NEX story.
It all started with a chap named Joel Glickman, then co-owner of the Rodon Group (plastics injection-moulding specialists). He was a guest at a wedding, and uncomfortable dancing, so he withdrew from the hurly-burly, and began idly playing with straws. An imaginative man, he soon began to see the possibilities, and started the process of designing and manufacturing a revolutionary new construction system.
The initial concept was for plastic rods and connectors. Joel and his brother Robert applied their plastics expertise, and soon came up with the original system, and test-marketed it in 1992. It was highly successful, and quickly gained in popularity after the launch. Since then, many other features have been added - wheels, cogs, pulleys and motors soon followed on from the basic system, and the success of the toy was almost guaranteed. The development of CyberK'NEX, a programmable system, has added a new dimension to an already versatile toy, bringing it into the 21st century.
Winner of over 150 awards, and the world's number one non-brick construction system, K'NEX is now sold in over forty countries, and the company is the second largest maker of contruction toys in the world, Lego being the biggest. According to the company's website, the toy "offers exceptional play value through building and bringing models to life. It inspires creativity, builds self-confidence and encourages interaction among children and parents". This is backed up worldwide - the company and the toy have won awards in many countries, from children's groups, the media, industry standards bodies, educators and design groups.
The K'NEX Company
Based in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, the privately-owned company is dedicated to providing quality educational toys, and is "financially successful while behaving in a socially and environmentally responsible manner". The company distributes its products through Hasbro. Started in 1992, by the Glickman brothers as an offshoot of the Rodon Group, both companies have worked together, to their mutual benefit.
The company continues to research new designs, working with real-world engineers and real-world children, with the stated goals of providing "a safe, effective, innovative, and distinctive construction set that...tickles the senses of humor and wonder", all the while respecting "the intelligence of our customers by providing products and designs that do exactly what we advertise they will..."