The Barbie doll, invented by Ruth Handler in 1959, was named after her own daughter. The Ken Doll, likewise, was named after her son. Barbie was first introduced to the world at the 1959 American Toy Fair in New York City sporting a ponytail and a black-and-white striped swimsuit. If she were a real person, the original Barbie doll's measurements would have been an incredible 39-18-33. In response to criticism that these measurements might create unrealistic expections for young girls to live up to, Mattel has since adjusted the chest measurement down and the waist measurement up. Some Barbie Doll milestones: Barbie is introduced to the world (1959), Ken, her boyfriend, is introduced (1961), Fashion Queen Barbie debuts with three interchangeable wigs (1963), Skipper, Barbie's little sister, is introduced (1964), Barbie gets bendable legs (1965), a speaking Barbie is released (1968), Malibu Barbie debuts (1971), Superstar Barbie debuts (1977), Black Barbie and Hispanic Barbie are introduced (1980), Barbie gets her own web site (1996), Barbie runs for President (2000), Barbie and Ken split up (2004).
Erno Rubik, a Hungarian scientist obsessed with 3D geometry, first envisioned the Rubik's Cube in 1974. It took him several years, however, to work out the complex interaction of the toy's elements. And even after creating a working model, Rubik found it difficult to market his new toy due to the political and economic atmosphere -- Hungary was deeply communist at the time. Finally, in 1979, Rubik got the break he was looking for when the Rubik's Cube was featured at the Nuremberg Toy Show. It captured the imagination of toy enthusiasts everywhere, and by 1982, over 100 million cubes had been sold.
In an effort to promote pogo sticks, inventor George Hansburg arranged a number of publicity stunts, including a marriage performed on pogo sticks in the 1920 Ziegfeld Follies show. For the stunt, Hansburg himself taught all the Ziegfeld Follies girls how to pogo.
Introduced in 1963, the very first Easy-Bake Oven was turquoise and came equipped with a carrying handle and fake stove top. In its first year, America's first working toy oven sold over 500,000 units. But even the Easy-Bake Oven would have to keep up with the times. In 1969, an avocado green version was introduced with enhanced features such as a fake clock and even an oven hood. In 1970, avocado green was replaced by harvest gold. And in 1978, a microwave version called the Mini-Wave Oven was introduced. By 1997, more than 16 million Easy-Bake Ovens had been sold!
Although it achieved fame as a popular children's toy, Noah and Joseph McVicker originally invented Play-Doh in 1965 for use as a wallpaper cleaner. Although Play-Doh's exact makeup is a closely guarded secret, it is known to contain, among other things, wheat flour, water, salt, and some sort of petroleum distillate.
A frisbee is required to play the games Durango Boot and Suzy Sticks. The term "Frisbee," a trademark of the Wham-O toy company, is generally considered to be a deliberate misspelling of the Frisbie Pie Company whose pie tins were originally converted into flying discs by inventive (and probably bored) Yale college students.
In 1943, a pigeon named G. I. Joe saved the lives of over 1,000 people in a small Italian village which was scheduled to be bombarded by Allied forces. A message that the British had already captured the village, delivered by G.I. Joe, arrived just in time to avoid the bombing, and over a thousand people were saved. Two years later, a hit movie entitled The Story of G. I. Joe (1945) was released about the life of war correspondent Ernie Pyle. Finally, in 1964, looking for a male action figure to match the success of their Barbie doll, Hasbro introduced the G. I. Joe doll, a military-themed action figure. Was he named after the pigeon or the movie? Well ... the pigeon did come first!
Silly Putty is created by mixing silicone oil and boric acid. Invented by a GE engineer named James Wright who was searching for a rubber substitute during World War II, this new compound was similar to rubber but could stretch many times its own length without breaking and also possessed the unusual ability to copy the image of any printed material it was pressed against. Originally called "Nutty Putty," GE made their discovery available to scientists across the globe, and although none of them could find a use for it, they all enjoyed playing with the silly substance. Finally, in 1949, Peter Hodgson had the brilliant idea of selling the substance to children. In its first year on the market, Silly Putty (as it was renamed) set a toy sales record, racking up over $6 million in sales.