Aktiebolaget Alga ("Alga Ltd") was founded in 1917 by Pressbyrån AB, a company that sold newspapers, magazines and stationary as well as other things in kiosks situated very often on railway stations and the like. In the beginning Alga was not a games company but rather the printing arm of Pressbyrån, being responsible for the aforementioned stationary items. It is said that the name Alga is derived from the names of the wifes of the two Pressbyrån directors that founded Alga: one wife was called Anna Lundqvist (A L) and the other one Anna Gadh (G A), hence ALGA. It is still possible to find Alga stationary like post cards, collector's book marks and other stationaries at internet auctions etc.
Games came into Alga in 1936 when they started producing, on license, the famous Monopoly game. The license also applied to Finland, Norway and Denmark. This happened simultaneously with the purchase of Alga by famous publishing house Bonniers. (This also meant that Alga published comic magazines during the 1940's!) The growth in the field of games was however rather slow, after about 15 years Alga had released approx. 25 games. But as Swedes, and not only the children but adults too, started playing games more releases were made. In 1963 - the year when the famous slogan "Alla spelar Alga" ("Everybody Plays Alga") was born - Alga had a record number of games in their catalogue: 35.
In 1966-67 Alga decided to move out of Stockholm and ended up in the little town of Vittsjö, part of Hässleholm municipality in the northern part of the South-Swedish province of Scania. Besides the directors and a few higher employees none of the staff followed, and many new colleagues were recruited to Vittsjö. In the neighbouring town of Osby another big Swedish toy and game manufacturer - BRIO AB - had their offices and works. A coincidence that perhaps would have its consequnces later on! Also in the late 1960's the games boxes' appearances had been somewhat standardised, today we call it Alga Grey stripe editions (on the left hand side).
So when in the early 1970's the stripes turned light blue (Blue stripe editions) and Alga had consolidated itself in Vittsjö, the company commenced its Golden Years. This coincided with the bankruptcy of Aristospel AB, which gave Alga a few additional games to procuce; the Bondespelet being perhaps the most famous. No wonder the games of Alga won the 1971 Toy of the Year Award from the Toy Mongers Association. In 1973 Alga had about 55 games in the catalogue - a record number!
During these years Alga also became an importer of other toys (than games) and founded subsidiary companies (such as Oy Fenno-Alga Ab
) in the other Nordic countries, to act as representatives of Alga in Sweden. In approx. 1978 however, Alga experienced a set-back when Parker decided to lift Alga's licensing rights for Monopoly. They had however very good relations with Waddingtons in the UK and published several Waddington games up to Waddingtons disappearance in the early 1990's, approximately when the Golden years ended.
In 1980 Alga employed Dan Glimne who eventually would become games manager of Alga. He stayed until 1989. In 1983 finally, Alga - now a famous brand for games in the Nordic countries - was purchased by their neighbour BRIO in Osby. Brio had their own games publishing arm called Joker, who was responsible for Scrabble (called Alfapet in Sweden) to mention an important part of their games. BRIO obviously saw great synergy effects with both Joker and Alga in their service. So when BRIO lost the license of Scrabble (while retaining the ownership of the name Alfapet) they gave Alga (not Joker) the order to issue a new Alfapet. It has been said that BRIO changed a lot of things within Alga but kept the product development section protected.
In 2006 under new owners BRIO (including Alga) left Vittsjö and Osby for a new head office in Malmö. Production of componments for their games and toys had already been transfered to low cost markets in South East Asia. Although Alga still exists as a limited company it is for all practical purposes just a trademark name of BRIO AB, however being The Classic Swedish Games Company in the eyes of many a Swede, having reintroduced the light blue stripe on the boxes. (This time however, on the right hand side of the lid.)
In 2015 BRIO (incl. Alga) was - according to Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter - purchased by German toy and games giant Ravensburger. It is still to be seen what this will mean to Alga and BRIO.
- Alga has been a subsidiary of Brio AB since 1983.