Furby is an interactive toy with colorful fur and big eyes. It can respond to voice commands and speak hundreds of words (in its own language, Furbish). It enjoys singing, chatting, and shrieking.
Did you know?
The U.S. National Security Agency banned Furbies for fear that they might be used to record classified information.
Furby was originally released by Tiger Electronics in the fall of 1998 and quickly became the must-have toy of the holiday season. According to historian Allison Marsh, the Furby's inventors, David Hampton and Caleb Chung, recognized the durability required for a children's toy as well as the need for it to be interactive and engaging: "The patent describes at length the reversible motor that drove all of the moving body parts, including the ears, eyes, and wings. It also repeatedly mentions the lifelike interactions the inventors hoped children would have with the toy. They wanted the Furby to seem intelligent and capable of learning, which they programmed into the 6502." She notes that the Furby's source code was written by David Hampton and Wayne Schulz "to run on a variation of the 6502 microprocessor, the 8-bit chip that powered the Apple II, Commodore 64, and BBC Micro."
The Furby first generation, priced at $35, was available from 1998 to 2002. A second generation was sold by toy maker Hasbro from 2005 to 2007. A third and fourth generation, with more expressive LCD eyes and smartphone app connectivity, were in the market from 2012 to 2017, selling for $60, after which they were discontinued. According to some estimates, more than 40 million Furbies have been sold worldwide.
In 2023, which marks the Furby brand's 25th anniversary, Hasbro reintroduced Furby. The new generation of the iconic toy has several new features, including five voice-activated modes, 600 phrases, and a more compact body with a new hairstyle and two fur colors, purple and coral. According to Hasbro, the new Furby "does not connect to the Internet" and includes an off switch. The retail price is $70.