The Furby was created by Dave Hampton, a former programmer at Mattel, for Tiger Electronics. Making their grand debut at the 1998 International Toy Fair, they soon made waves and became the most popular doll of the holiday season. Naturally, much price gouging and bodily injuries ensued in the quest to obtain one of these coveted items.
The Furby came in a variety of colors and designs guaranteed to satisfy any preference. For a child's toy, it was also incredibly advanced. Through a special computer chip, it could listen, communicate with other Furbies, differentiate between light and dark, go to sleep, wake up, and be fed.
Furbies were the first successful attempt to produce and sell a domestically-aimed robot. Designed to be interactive, childlike and a surrogate playtime buddy, the Furby has become one of the most infamous and controversial toys in recent history.
Furbies can communicate with one another via an infrared port located between their eyes. Furbies start out speaking entirely "Furbish", a language with short words, simple syllables, and various other sounds. They are programmed, however, to speak less and less Furbish and more and more English as they "grow".
There was a common misconception that they repeated words that were said around them. This belief most likely stemmed from the fact that it is possible to have the Furby say certain pre-programmed words or phrases more often by petting it whenever it said these words. As a result of this myth, several intelligence agencies banned them from their offices.
A simple electric motor and a system of cams and gears close the Furby's eyes and mouth, raise its ears, and lift it off the ground in a faux display of mobility. [source: Wikipedia]