Barbie is 49 years old! On this day in 1959, the first Barbie doll went on display at the American Toy Fair.
Barbie was modeled on a German doll based on a comic strip character. The Lilli doll was marketed as a racy gag gift for adult men. Mattel bought the rights to Lilli and made its own version, named Barbie for the daughter of the doll's creator.
Mattel released a boyfriend for Barbie named Ken in 1961, named for the dollmaker's son, and other characters later. Since 1959 more than 800 million dolls in the Barbie family have been sold around the world.