Barbie was founded in 1959 by Ruth Handler. Handler created the idea for barbie, watching her young daughter Barbara play with paper dolls and giving them more mature roles. Noticing a gap in the market of dolls, Handler confronted her husband Elliot, the co-founder of Mattel, with the idea of an adult- bodied doll. Initially the idea of the more mature doll did not go over well, Mattel thought little girls should playing with baby dolls.
In 1956, during a trip to Germany with her two children, Barbara and Kenneth, Handler noticed a doll in a shop window that looked exactly like what she had in mind. It was called the Bild Lilli Doll. The Lilli doll was based off of a comic strip created by Reinhard Beuthin called Die Bild-Zeitung. Lilli had an adult body, and was a working-class girl who knew what she wanted and was not afraid to go after it.
Handler purchased three of the German dolls and brought them back to Mattel to show her husband. Handler reworked the dolls image with engineer Jack Ryan and the doll was named after Handler's daughter Barbara, aka Barbie. Barbie first debut at America's International Toy Fair in March of 1959. The first barbie was dressed in a black and white zebra striped swimsuit, wore a pony tail and came in your choice of blonde or brunette. Barbie was marketed as a *Teen-age Fashion Model* with her clothes designed by Mattel fashion designer Charlotte Johnson.
In 1961 the first Ken doll was debut, named after Handler's son Kenneth. Ken's full name is Ken Carson, and is known as Barbie's beau.
When Barbie first debut, Handler was criticized by the public. In her autobiography, Dream Doll, she tells us comments from the public, *little girls want baby dolls. They want to pretend to be mommies,* but Handler rebutted back with *No they don't, little girls want to pretend to be bigger girls,* and she was absolutely right. Handler went with the philosophy of *know your customer*. Handler learned to market to children instead of parents by advertising on television.
Barbie has become a cultural icon and role model for little girls all over the world.
Barbie is now packaged easier for collectors in the Tier system including four different tiers of Pink, Silver, Gold and Platinum.
Pink - Unlimited production
Silver - Up to 50,000 in production
Gold - Up to 25,000 in production
Platinum - Up to 1,000 in production
Reed & Barton