Ruth and Elliot Handler (shown here) founded Mattel Creations in 1945, and 14 years later, Ruth Handler gave the world the Barbie doll. When asked her relationship to Barbie, Ruth simply replied, "I'm Barbie's mom."
The inspiration for Barbie came as Ruth watched her daughter Barbara playing with paper dolls. Barbara and her friends used them to play adult or teenage make-believe, imagining roles as college students, cheerleaders and adults with careers. Ruth immediately recognized that experimenting with the future from a safe distance through pretend play was an important part of growing up. She also noticed a product void and was determined to fill that niche with a three-dimensional fashion doll.
Several years and many designs later, Mattel introduced Barbie, the Teen-Age
Fashion Model, to skeptical toy buyers at the annual Toy Fair in New York on
March 9, 1959. Never before had they seen a doll so completely unlike the baby
and toddler dolls popular at the time.