Every girl’s favorite companion- the Barbie doll, was invented by Ruth Handler in 1959. She was the co-founder of the renowned toy company, Mattel. Ruth was inspired by her daughter Barbara’s fascination with teenage life and love for fashion dolls. She used to watch her daughter and her friends play with paper dolls, pretending to be adults. She saw the scope for a three-dimensional fashion doll. Thus Barbie, named after her daughter, was born.
“My whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.”
– Ruth Handler
Barbie was introduced to the world at the American Toy Fair in New York City on March 9, 1959 as the teenage fashion doll. The full name of the first doll was Barbie Millicent Roberts, from Willows, Wisconsin. She wore a black and white zebra striped swimsuit and signature topknot ponytail, and was available as either a blonde or brunette. Barbie instantly became a sensation!
The first Barbie dolls were manufactured in Japan, with their clothes hand-stitched by Japanese homeworkers. Around 350,000 Barbie dolls were sold during the first year of production.
The doll has been made in versions connected to over 125 different careers. Her careers are designed to show that women can take on a variety of roles in life, and the doll has been sold with a wide range of titles including Miss Astronaut Barbie (1965), Doctor Barbie (1988), and Firefighter (1995). Different dolls are sold with sets of clothes and accessories that fit the career being portrayed.
Barbie continues to find new ways to inspire and encourage the next generation of girls. It provides the children the option of exploring new careers and helps them to learn new things. The Barbie doll remains one of Mattel’s best-selling products.