A Furby (plural Furbys or Furbies, according to Tiger. Co.) is an electronic toy, more specifically, a robot, made by Tiger Electronics which went through a period of being a "must-have" toy following its launch in the holiday season of 1998, with continual sales until 2000. Furby sold 1.8 million units in 1998, 14 million units in 1999, and altogether in its three years of original production, Furby sold over 40 million units, and its speaking capabilities were translated into 24 languages. Furbys were the first successful attempt to produce and sell a domestically-aimed robot. A newly purchased Furby starts out speaking entirely Furbish, the unique language that all Furbys use, but are programmed to speak less Furbish as they gradually start using English. English is learned automatically, and no matter what culture they are nurtured in, they learn English. In 2005, new Furbys were released, with voice-recognition and more complex facial movements, among many other changes and improvements. The Emoto-Tronic Furbies (Furby, Furby Baby, and Funky Furby) continued to be sold until late 2007, when these toys became extremely rare.
Birth of the Furby
Birth of the Furby: Dave Hampton and Caleb Chung created the Furby in merely nine months (in addition to an additional nine months spent designing the toy). That was the amount of time between Tiger Electronics showing an interest in their interactive creatures, during which Roger Schiffman bought the rights to it, and the time they hit store shelves. Furby's first public appearance was at the International Toy Fair in 1998.
Furbys originally retailed for about US$35, and upon release Furbys flew off the shelves in toyshops. Catapulting demand for these toys during the 1998 holiday season drove the resale price over US$100 and sometimes as high as several hundred dollars. Furbys sold for over US$300 in newspapers and in auctions. Nicknames were given to them, and sellers assigned rarity values to them. Some people continue to call their Furbys by the terms 'wedding Furby', 'tuxedo Furby', 'snowball Furby', 'biker Furby', among others. All, of course, were dubbed rare by sellers, because they were so hard to find at the time. In a sure display of the demand for even one Furby, some sellers at the time scammed people out of a lot of money, without even having first given them a Furby. Parental battles, arguments, and fights increased rapidly as supplies dwindled, and when retail supplies ran out, parents turned to the Internet, where Furbys could be purchased for two, three, or more multiples of their retail price. During one 12-month period, a total of 27 million Furby toys were sold.
Recent Revival: 2005 saw the reintroduction of Furby with the release of the new Emoto-Tronic Furby. The increasing emotional realism of the Emoto-Tronic Furby has given birth to a number of Furby-oriented special interest groups. These communities seek to integrate aspects of the Furby experience into human society. The most visible of these groups include Furbish-to-English translators and Furby adoption agencies. In addition, there is a flourishing subculture of Furby Furries (see furry fandom).