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Furby 1998
$ 27 (10)

Stacks Of Gen 1-7 Furbys with a Furbacca

Type Electronic Toy

Inventor

Voice Actor

David Hampton

Tony Pope

Released: 1998 (22 years ago)

Discontinued:

Slogan:

2001-2002[citation needed]

Let‘s Have Fun

Colors Produced:

46 Regular

21 Special Edition

15 Fresh New Look

19 Regular Unreleased

9 Special Unreleased

Companies:

Tiger Electronics

TOMY (Japan)

Estrela (Brazil)

Hasbro Hellas (Greece)

Hasbro

Grand Toys (Canada)

GIG (Italy)

Brio (Sweden)

This article is about the 1998 Furby Line. For the 1999 Furby Babies click here. For the 2005 Furby, click here. For the 2005 Furby babies, click here. For the 2006 Funky Furbys, click here. For the 2012 Furby click here. For the 2013 Furby Boom! Line, click here . For the 2014 Furby Boom! Crystal Series, click here. For the 2016 Furby Connect, click here.

A Furby (plural Furbys) is an electronic friend initially released in 1998 by Tiger Electronics Inc, which went through a period of being a "must-have" toy following its launch in the holiday season of 1998, with continual sales until 2000. Furby sold 1.8 million units in 1998, 14 million units in 1999, and altogether in its three years of original production, Furby sold over 40 million units, and its speaking capabilities were translated into 24 languages.

Furbys were the first successful attempt to produce and sell a domestically-aimed robot. A newly purchased Furby starts out speaking entirely Furbish, the unique language that all Furbys use, but are programmed to speak less Furbish as they gradually start using English, or another language.

For the 1998-2002 line, there were over 46 colors, with 21 Special Editions, and lots of unreleased models.

Release

Dave Hampton and Caleb Chung spent nine months creating the Furby (in addition to nine months spent designing the toy). After two attempts at licensing the concept, they invited fellow toy and game inventor Richard C. Levy to join their efforts to sell Furby. Levy brought Furby to Tiger Electronics and Tiger's Roger Shiffman bought the rights to it. Furby's first public appearance was at the American International Toy Fair in 1998.

Released on October 2nd, 1998, the Furby was a major success both critically and commercially. They were initially retailed for US$30-$35. Catapulting demand for these toys during the 1998 holiday season drove the resale price over US$100 and sometimes as high as several hundred dollars. Furbys sold for over US$300 in newspapers and in auctions. Units flew off the shelves which resulted in high demand and heavy shortages. In 1998 and 1999, the brand sold over 40 million units[citation needed]. From 2000 to 2001, the brand sold 5 million of the virtual pets, and in 2002 the popularity diminished, and the Furby franchise was fully discontinued.

Fans and sellers gave nicknames to the different Furbys in order to differentiate them. Some people continue to call their Furbys by the terms 'Sunrise Furby', 'Tuxedo Furby', 'Snowball Furby', 'Bandit Furby', among others.

Originally, Furbys were aimed more at girls and young children aged 5-13 years old, however, burping and raspberry sounds were added in for balance. Even adults still love the Furby, and some have started fan clubs and forums all about them.

Follow-Up Releases

Furby Babies, a smaller version of the 1998 Furby, was released in 1999. In 2005, new Furbys were released, Emoto-Tronic Furbys, with voice-recognition and more complex facial movements, among many other changes and improvements. These Emoto-Tronic Furbys (Furby, Furby Baby, and Funky Furby) continued to be sold until late 2007, when these toys became extremely rare. In 2012-2014, more Furbys including the Furby Boom was released. It came with apps for phone devices. In 2016, the Furby Connect was released. Like the Furby Boom, it came with an app, which involved most of the Furby's interactability. It is currently the last era of the Furby.

List of Furbys

Main article: List of Furbys

There are 8 generations of Adult Furbys, many special editions, a Fresh New Look line, and several unproduced generations and special editions.

Special Editions

Main article: 1998 Furby Special Editions

There are several special editions. Most are made for particular events or for design contests.

The Fresh New Look Furbys

Fresh New Look Furbys are Furbys that were revamped and rereleased with slight differences.

Unreleased Furbys

Furby Generation 9 and 10 Furbys never made it to the market, but prototypes were made. Besides the Lion Furby (Gen. 10), all other Furbys from Gen. 9-10 only had 1 prototype ever made. There are also several unreleased special editions.

Early Prototypes

There are several early prototypes that are seen in advertisements.

Lore

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Furbys come from Furbyland, which they call A-loh May-lah. They speak their native language, Furbish

Manual

Furbyland (A-loh May-lah) rests very high in the sky on a cloud near a sun. One day, the Furbys decided to leave, and jumped from the Furbyland cloud down to Earth. 

Furbys are very sensitive. They have big hearts. They are very ticklish, love having their back rubbed, love hugs and love being held. They are not afraid of the dark. They like to hide, but love to be found. They love to dance. 

Shelby Care and Training Guide

Furbyland (A-loh May-lah) is a world with clouds resting on a blue sea, surrounded by white sand, where they play games, dance, and sing. The Shelby Care and Training Guide suggests that Furbyland is located deep underground, and has a green light source. Furbys live in a family unit of about twenty, called a Furby clan. Clans band together to form tribes.

For tens of thousands of years, they had been living in A-loh May-lah, and they bonded with tall, slender, transparent beings called Eons. Due to an unfortunate climate change, the Eons became extinct. Furbys cannot reach their full maturity and potential unless they have a creature to bond with. They attempted bonding with other creatures on A-loh May-lah, including Shelbys (who have been living here for hundreds of thousands of years) but to no success. So one day, the Furby tribe all decided to come to Earth, and "jumped down from the clouds", and were able to bond happily with humankind. 

Furbys hatch from eggs, and their lifespan is 125 years. They are sweet, though can be rude, and enjoy eating. They have long attention spans. 

Personality

Furby 1998 mainly has only 1 personality, which is a calm and friendly Furby. It can be slightly changed by treating Furby differently depending on what it does.  

Names

Main article: List of 1998 Furby names

Each Furby receives a name in Furbish.

Manual

Getting Technical

Microprocessor

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A Furby with the skin and shell taken off.

The original Furby was written in 6502 code, an assembly language for the MOS Technology 6502 microprocessor, though it’s believed to not run on a MOS Technology 6502 chip and instead have used the Sunplus SPC81A chipset, from Taiwanese semiconductor firm Sunplus Technology. The leaked source code references this SPC81A-XXXX-C microprocessor. The SPC81A is an 6502-like SoC, but there are some pretty distinct differences. It supports far fewer instructions compared to mainline 6502 chips. It’s also built for low-voltage applications, and is simplified in order to make it cheaper, which is crucial given it went into toys. [1]

The mechanical engineering is very complex, but has got smaller and more efficient over the years.

Speech Synthesizer

The speech synthesizer is very similar to most electronic devices produced in the 1980s like the Speak And Spell. The same exact speech synthesizer was used in Mr. Potato Head and Monopoly handhelds in 1997, the year before Furbys were first sold in stores. The speech codec is very similar to LPC-10, and CELP (At 2 kbps).

Documentation

The hardware of 1998 Furbies is documented in US Patent US6544098B1. The appendix of this patent contains the partial source code for the firmware of the main microcontroller.

There's also a design patent, USD423611S.

Trivia

  • The fur is made of artificial 'faux fir' fibers and can be cut and shaved with ease.
  • Furby's official release was on October 2nd, 1998.[2]
  • Between fur colors, voice pitches, and eye colors, there are over 1000 unique Furby combinations that exist.[3]
  • The Tattletails in the horror game Tattletail were inspired by the original 1998 Furbys.[citation needed]
  • Many Furby fakes were made to easily make cash quickly and the response was to put on the purple plastic tags saying ”Furby Original“ with a picture of a Furby on the tag. Hasbro took responsibility by taking legal actions towards bootleggers in several ways. Some examples include, shredding 20k Furby fakes publicly in London,[4] seizing counterfeit Furbys from toy fairs in China,[5] and shutting down a factory that was producing a knockoff Furby[6].
  • According to a media director at MIT in 1999, the processing power of a Furby was more than that of the first lunar module to land on the moon.[7]
  • In 1999, Furbys were banned by The Pentagon, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and the NSA. This was because people were concerned that Furbys might be capable of recording sensitive information.[8]
  • In Sweden, Swedish-speaking Furbys were packaged under the name "Furbee", instead of "Furby", to avoid confusion with the eponymous place.[9]
  • From 1998-1999, Furby remained the top toy for two years, and over twelve million Furbys were sold internationally from October 1998 to December 1999.[10]
  • If you could lay 12 million Furbys from head to toe, they would wrap around Earth 783 times.[11]
  • Between fur colors, eye colors and the sound of its voice, there are over 1000 different combinations of Furby toys available.[12]
  • Furby is capable of using more than 300 different unique combinations of ear, mouth and eye movements.[13]
  • A YouTube user named Simply Nailogical starred in two Furby commercials including an unaired Furby commercial which has prototype Furbys in it and another Furby commercial that had aired on TV.[14]
  • 1998 Furbys were used as an Easter egg in a 2018 canceled Transformers-continuity Hasbro comic called Scarlett's Strike Force. In issue 2, three Furbys can be found coming out of the T-Rex's mouth after it was punched in the gut.


Gallery

Gen1group
Click here to view the gallery.

Videos

References

  1. https://thenextweb.com/dd/2018/08/13/take-a-look-inside-the-furbys-source-code/
  2. http://www.vancouversun.com/Furby/5670654/story.html
  3. https://web.archive.org/web/20031210062710/http://www.hasbro.com:80/pl/page.viewproduct/product_id.13347/dn/tigertoys/default.cfm
  4. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/furbycide-after-fakes-seizures-1.255790
  5. https://www.scmp.com/article/305808/furby-toy-maker-takes-legal-action
  6. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/1999-05-17/check-the-id-of-that-furby
  7. https://web.archive.org/web/20031210062710/http://www.hasbro.com:80/pl/page.viewproduct/product_id.13347/dn/tigertoys/default.cfm
  8. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/talking-toy-or-spy/
  9. https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/adoptafurby/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=6023&p=22039306&hilit=furbee
  10. https://web.archive.org/web/20031210062710/http://www.hasbro.com:80/pl/page.viewproduct/product_id.13347/dn/tigertoys/default.cfm
  11. https://web.archive.org/web/20031210062710/http://www.hasbro.com:80/pl/page.viewproduct/product_id.13347/dn/tigertoys/default.cfm
  12. https://web.archive.org/web/20031210062710/http://www.hasbro.com:80/pl/page.viewproduct/product_id.13347/dn/tigertoys/default.cfm
  13. https://web.archive.org/web/20031210062710/http://www.hasbro.com:80/pl/page.viewproduct/product_id.13347/dn/tigertoys/default.cfm
  14. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M232zXAAHN4

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