Barbie is a doll manufactured by the American toy company Mattel and launched in March 1959. The creator is the American businesswoman Ruth Handler, who, looking at her daughter Barbara playing with paper dolls, realized she often liked to give dolls adult roles.
At that time most toy dolls were children's representations. Realizing that there could be a market segment of toys not yet attacked by anyone, she suggested to her husband Elliot, the co-founder of the Mattel toys company, the idea of a doll with adult body.
During a trip to Europe in 1956, with her children Barbara and Kenneth, Ruth Handler saw a German toy doll called Bild Lilli. The doll with a semblance of an adult was exactly what Handler had in mind. She purchased three of them, gave one to her daughter and took the others back to the United States where she redesigned the doll's design (with the help of engineer Jack Ryan) and gave her a new name, Barbie, just like her daughter.
Barbie dolls were produced in Japan, with hand-sewn dress from Japanese workers. About 350,000 Barbie dolls were sold during the first year of production.