In 1945, Elliot Handler and Harold "Matt" Matson teamed up to create what would become a toy giant. They combined "Matt" and "Elliott" and called their company Mattel. On March 9, 1959, Mattel introduced a doll that would change the way little girls played all over the world. Elliot's wife, Ruth, inspired by her daughter's fascination with paper dolls, convinced her husband to create a three-dimensional doll. Barbie was an instant hit.
Three Barbie dolls are sold every second somewhere in the world, making Barbie the most successful doll of all time. She's sold in over 150 countries and reflects over 45 different nationalities and ethnicities. Barbie has had almost 100 different careers, from astronaut to teacher to presidential candidate!
Richard Dickson, senior vice president at Mattel, says the Barbie that started it all is kept in a top-secret location under lock and key in the company's El Segundo, California, headquarters—but he's bringing her out of hiding just for us! "This is a really big deal. We got [her] out of the vault," he says. "This is the first time that I've even held the original 1959 Barbie!"