The Original 1959 Barbie
Ruth Handler & Barbie
Barbie was the brainchild of Ruth Handler, co-founder (with her husband Elliot) of the toy company Mattel, Inc. Inspired by watching their daughter play with make-believe paper dolls of adult women, Handler realized there was an unfilled niche in the market for a toy that allowed little girls to imagine the future.
Recognizing a gap in the market, which only offered baby dolls for girls to imagine themselves as caregivers, Ruth invented the fashion doll category with a three-dimensional doll that girls could use to imagine their future selves. Ruth’s philosophy behind Barbie was that through the doll a little girl could be anything she wanted to be and that she has choices. Over 60 years, Barbie has empowered girls to imagine themselves in aspirational roles from a princess to president.
"Anything is possible"
-Barbie In The Nutcracker, 2001
Barbara Millicent Roberts
In March 1959, a doll named “Barbie” launched onto the American toy market, sporting a black-and-white striped bathing suit, pouty red lips and a sassy blonde pony tail. The leggy, 11-inch plastic figure—full name: Barbara Millicent Roberts—was the first mass-produced toy doll in the U.S. with adult features. She would go on to become one of the most iconic playthings in history.