Barbie is a doll that was originally manufactured by the toy company Mattel. The fashion doll was launched back in 1959 by an American businesswoman. This woman based the design of the Barbie doll from a German sex doll. Barbie remains the figurehead today for the Mattel brand dolls and their doll accessories. Barbie has remained an important, key figure in the world of toy dolls for over fifty years. Barbie has also been at the center of many controversies and lawsuits.

It was Ruth Handler who would watch her young daughter play with paper dolls. During this time she noted that her daughter would give the dolls an adult roll. Many of the dolls for children at the time were presented only as babies. This brought to light the fact that a gap existed in the toy doll market and Handler offered the idea of a doll with an adult body to her husband, who had co-founded the toy company.

The notion took off with a hit. In 1956 the family was taking a trip to Europe and came across the adult-sex doll manufactured by a German company called Bild Lilli. This doll reminded Handler of what she wanted for the adult-version her company would later produce, so she bought all three of the dolls. She gave one of the dolls to her daughter and kept the other two. This doll was first sold in Germany the year before, based off of a comic of a bombshell blonde who used her feminine ways to get what she wanted from men. The doll was originally only sold to adults, but later it became popular with children who enjoyed changing the outfits on the doll.

Once Handler returned stateside she started to rework the doll and named it Barbie. The official birthday for Barbie became March 9, 1959 when the doll debuted at the international toy fair. Mattel purchased the rights to the German doll and production in Germany of the sex doll stopped. The first Barbie to be produced was available with blonde hair or blonde hair. She came in a black and white zebra print swim suit with her hair in the now-famous ponytail. Soon Barbie doll clothes were manufactured so that she could have multiple outfits. The clothes were all stitched by hand in Japan.

Today Barbie remains a cultural legacy, one which started over fifty years ago. The name is synonymous with the company and the doll has seen many new designs and many new outfits.