History of the Barbie Doll

March 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Antique Toy History

Barbie Doll Pictures, Images and PhotosThe Barbie doll is an icon in the toy industry and has been for many years. Many generations of little girls have played with and imagined with Barbie.

The Barbie doll was created by American businesswoman Ruth Handler. Her inspiration was her daughter, Barbara. She was playing with a typical doll, one that resembled a baby, but she was pretending the doll was an adult. Ruth realized that there was a need for a doll that represented adulthood. Ruth suggested the idea to her husband Elliot, a co-founder of the Mattel toy company who did not share her enthusiasm. During a trip to Europe with her two children, Barbie and Ken, she came across a German doll named Bild Lilli. It was the adult doll that she had envisioned. Lilli was an ambitious working girl with a fabulous wardrobe.
Ruth returned to the United States with steely determination. With the assistance from engineer Jack Ryan, Handler revised the design of the doll and was named Barbie after her daughter. Barbie was introduced at the American International Toy Fair in New York on March 9, 1959. Mattel obtained the right to the Bild Lilli doll in 1964 and production of Lilli ceased.
Barbie’s appearance was very modern. The first Barbie doll wore her hair in a signature topknot ponytail and a black and white zebra striped swimsuit. The doll was produced in two versions, a blonde and a brunette.
The Barbie doll continues to be a favorite toy of little girls around the world.