Barbie is a fashion doll manufactured by the American toy-company Mattel Inc. and was launched in March 1959 after an American business woman Ruth Handler created her doll, using a German doll called Bild Lilli as her inspiration.
The doll was named Barbie after Ruths own daughter Barbara.
The doll made its debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York on March 9, 1959. This date is also used as Barbie's official birthday.Mattel acquired the rights to the Bild Lilli doll in 1964 and production of Lilli was stopped. The first Barbie doll wore a black and white zebra striped swimsuit and signature ponytail, and was available as either a blonde or brunette.
The doll was marketed as a "Teen-age Fashion Model," with her clothes created by Mattel fashion designer Charlotte Johnson. 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.