1968 The world's first Legoland resort opens
The world's first Legoland resort opens
I searched for the earliest set made by lego but could only find a reference to this one which was released with two others in 1954. 1954 is the first year these interlocking bricks were called Lego before that they had another name, "The Automatic Binding Brick". I won't go into the full history here if you want to read more about how, when & where Lego came from check out the link above.
Each child has a different style for playing with Lego though only one seems to have a real interest in the building aspect. It doesn't matter it gives them something to do that they enjoy doing when they visit Nana Cheryl. They all enjoy it so much that we have taken two to Legoland already and will be taking the other three this year at their request.
Oh and if you have been around for a while you know that I like to play with them too but true to my preferences I build what they call habitats for Lego figures and miniature scenes. Though I have tried other forms as well including the straight building of vehicles and houses and mosaics they just don't interest me as much.
If you have a small creative space I suggest you give Lego a try, it really is a creative toy for kids & adults both. And one $30 set can give you hours of creative fun. Just remember the biggest plus of playing with Lego, you can take a picture of what you've made then tear it apart to build something entirely new.