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One of the many "first generation" variations of Classic (1998) Furby

A Furby (plural Furbys or Furbies) was a popular electronic toy or robot, more specifically, an owl-like creature 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. Furbies sold 1.8 million units in 1998, 14 million units in 1999, and altogether in its three years of original production, Furbies sold over 40 million units, and its speaking capabilities were translated into 24 languages.

Furbies 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 Furbies use, but are programmed to speak less Furbish as they gradually start using English. English is learned automatically, and no matter what culture they are nurtured in, they learn English.[1] In 2005, new Furbies were released, with voice-recognition and more complex facial movements, among many other changes and improvements. The Emoto-Tronic Furbies (Furby, Furby Baby, and Funky Furby) continued to be sold until late 2007, when these toys became extremely rare.

Contents

History

Birth of the Furby

Dave Hampton and Caleb Chung spent nine months creating the Furby (in addition to nine months spent designing the toy). Early on Tiger Electronics showed an interest in their interactive creatures, and Roger Schiffman bought the rights to it. Furby's first public appearance was at the American International Toy Fair in 1998.

Furbies originally retailed for about US$35,[2] and upon release Furbys flew off the shelves in toyshops. 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. Nicknames were given to them, and sellers assigned rarity values to them. Some people continue to call their Furbys by the terms 'wedding Furby', 'tuxedo Furby', 'snowball Furby', 'biker Furby', among others. All, of course, were dubbed rare by sellers, because they were so hard to find at the time. In a sure display of the demand for the toy, some sellers at the time scammed people out of a great sum of money, without even having first given them a Furby. Parental battles, arguments, and fights increased rapidly as supplies dwindled, and when retail supplies ran out, parents turned to the Internet, where Furbys could be purchased for two, three, or more multiples of their retail price. During one 12-month period, a total of 27 million Furby toys were sold.[citation needed]

Recent Revival

2005 saw the reintroduction of Furby with the release of the new Emoto-Tronic Furby. The increasing emotional realism of the Emoto-Tronic Furby has given birth to a number of Furby-oriented special interest groups. These communities seek to integrate aspects of the Furby experience into human society. The most visible of these groups include Furbish-to-English translators and Furby adoption agencies. In addition, there is a flourishing subculture of Furby Furries (see furry fandom).

Furby types

Classic Furbies

An Emoto-Tronic Furby next to a 'Classic' Furby; note the size difference.

The main reason for their popularity was because of apparent "intelligence", reflected in their ability to develop language skills.

Furbies can communicate with one another via an infrared port located between their eyes. Furbys start out speaking entirely Furbish, a language with short words, simple syllables, and various other sounds, but are programmed 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.[3]

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.

The originals are still popular with many hackers as they can be dissected and made to do interesting things. In particular, their advanced audio capabilities and various sensory interfaces make them popular with the circuit bending community.[4][5]

Other Furbies

Furby Babies

In 1999, the Furby Babies line was introduced. Furby Babies are smaller than the original, have higher voices, and can't dance, but switch to speaking English more quickly. They also have an extended vocabulary, and different "Easter Eggs" and "games" built into them.Baby furbies come in 24 different colors. All with white eye lashes, six different eyecolors.

Furby Friends

Novel Furbies were also released, including an interactive Furby-like Gizmo, from the film Gremlins, a Furby-like Interactive Yoda based on the Star Wars character, and a Furby-like Interactive E.T. from the movie of the same name. Another 'friend of furby', called Shelby, is similar to Furby, but looks like a clam, has vast improvements in memory, and has a different personality; it was released in 2001 and can communicate with the original Furbys and Furby Babies. They also have sensors that can sense loud sounds, they can sense being upside down (they say things like "Shiver me timbers" and "Walk the plank", in the style of a pirate ship captain, when you leave them upside-down for an extended period of time), and they laugh when you "tickle" them (their antennae - or "tennies", as they like to call them). They also purr when you "pet" them. You can feed them by sticking your finger in their mouth. Similarly, Shelbys do not have their own names, unlike the classic Furbies. Shelbys are also capable of knowing if it is talking to a Furby or another Shelby, saying phrases such as "Where's Furby?" - though they can't differentiate between a Furby and a Furby Baby - they just assume it's a Furby. In addition to English, Shelbys also know some Furbish words and also have their own unique language called "Shelbish."

Emoto-Tronic Furbies

The latest species of Furby was released in August 2005. Larger than the previous version, the new Furbys have been upgraded with a more emotional face and a voice recognition system, enabling them to communicate with humans. Unlike the Furbys originally released, just one order is necessary to make them 'sleep', and they have an on/off switch. They can communicate with other Emoto-tronic Furbys, though to a lesser extent than the communication between original Furbys, and they cannot themselves communicate with the original Furbys neither Funky Furbys. They also lack light sensors and basic motion sensors and do not respond to loud sounds as the originals do. These Furbys, according to the story they come packed with, are from Furby Island.

Emoto-Tronic Furby Babies

In 2006, a new version of Furby baby was released, with most notable features being the new look and a more "Baby-ish" appearance in contrast to the Emoto-Tronic Furby adult. They also have considerably fewer features than the "adult" Furby, with a very limited vocabulary and a lower level of interactivity. Another notable feature of the 2006 Emoto-Tronic Baby Furby is the movable "legs", which unfurl when Furby baby is awake.

Emoto-Tronic Funky Furbies

The Funky Furbies were released in August 2006 outside the United States. They are limited to two color combinations (pink & yellow and purple & green) so far, and can sing three new songs and dance. They can be taught dance routines and remember them.

Furbish-English Phrases

Furbish is the language which is spoken by the Furbies. It is similar to English with a different grammar structure. A newly bought Furby starts out speaking entirely Furbish, the unique language with short words, simple syllables, and various other sounds, that all Furbies use, but are programmed to speak less Furbish as they learn more English as they "grow". Throughout a Furby's lifetime, it gradually learns English words and phrases, which it begins to speak in place of Furbish. The more English they learn, the more they "grow", making them more mature. The Furbish phrase "WHOA! Me deep sleep!" would translate into English as "Whoa! I slept for a long time!"

  • wee-tah-kah-loo-loo: Tell me a joke
  • wee-tah-kah-wee-loo: Tell me a story
  • wee-tee-kah-wah-tee: Sing me a song
  • u-nye-loo-lay-doo?: Do you want to play?
  • u-nye-ay-tay-doo?: Are you hungry?
  • u-nye-boh-doo?: How are you?
  • u-nye-way-loh-nee-way: Go to sleep now
  • u-nye-noh-lah: Show me a dance

Furbies may say these Furbish words:

  • doo?: What? (Furbies say this when called)
  • doo-dah: Yes (Furbies say this in response to a command before doing it)
  • boo: No (Furbies say this when they don't want to carry out a command)
  • yoo?: Why will you not play with me today? (This usually means the Furby is upset)

References

External links


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Noun

Wikipedia-logo.png
Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia

Singular
Furby

Plural
Furbys

Furby (plural Furbys)

  1. An electronic toy, in the form of a fluffy animal, that talks

Simple English

A Furby (plural Furbys or Furbies, according to Tiger. Co.) is a popular electronic toy or robot, more specifically, a hamster/owl-like creature made by Tiger Electronics, which went through a time of being the "must-have" toy following its launch in the winter holiday season of 1998, with continuing sales until 2000. Furbies 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. A video game of the Furbies was released in 1998 by Hasbro Interactive with many activities. Furbies were the first successful attempt to produce and sell a programed robot. In 2005, new Furbies were released, with voice-recognition and more complex facial movements, among many other changes and improvements. There was a common mistake that they repeated words that were said around them. This belief most likely came 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.[1]

Contents

History

Birth of the Furby

David Hampton and Caleb Chung created the Furby in about nine months (in addition to an additional nine months spent designing the toy). That was the amount of time between Tiger Electronics showing an interest in his interactive creatures, during which Roger Schiffman bought the rights to it, and the time they hit store shelves. Furby's first public appearance was at the International Toy Fair in 1998. Furbys originally retailed for about US$35,[2] and upon release Furbys flew off the shelves in toyshops. The demand for these toys during the 1998 holiday season drove the resale price over US$100 and sometimes as high as several hundred dollars. Furbies sold for over US$300 in newspapers and in auctions. Nicknames were given to them, and sellers gave values to them. Some people continue to call their Furbies by the terms 'wedding Furby', 'tuxedo Furby', 'snowball Furby', 'biker Furby', and others. All, of course, were named rare by sellers, because they were so hard to find at the time. In a sure display of the demand for even one Furby, some sellers at the time scammed people out of a lot of money, without even having first given them a Furby. Parent battles, arguments, and fights grew higher at the popularity of them, and when retail supplies ran out, parents turned to the Internet, where Furbies could be purchased for two, three, or more multiples of their retail price. This action led to many parents ending up on eBay.

Revival

In 2005 Furbies were re-introduced with the release of the new Emoto-Tronic Furby. The highly growing emotional realism of the Emoto-Tronic Furby has given birth to a number of Furby-like special interest groups. These communities want to bring features of the Furby experience into human society. The most visible of these groups include Furbish-to-English translators and Furby adoption agencies.

Furby types

Classic Furbies

The original Furbies were 6 inches (15 cm) tall. The main reason for their popularity was because of apparent "intelligence", reflected in their ability to develop language skills. Furbies can communicate with one another via an infrared port located between their eyes. A simple electric motor and a system of camras and gears close the Furby's eyes and mouth, raise its ears, and lift it off the ground in a faux display of mobility. The originals are still popular with many hackers as they can be dissected and made or changed to do other interesting things, including being able to say something insluting or humorous, like Shut up. In particular, they can be to do things their advanced audio capabilities and various sensory interfaces make them popular with the circuit bending community.[3][4]

Other Furbies

Furby Babies

In 1999, the Furby Babies line was introduced. Furby Babies are smaller than the original, have higher voices, and cannot dance, but switch to speaking English more quickly. They also have bigger vocabulary, and different "Easter Eggs" and "games" built into them. Baby furbies come in 24 different colors. All with white eye lashes, six different eyecolors.

Furby Friends

Book Furbies were also released, including an interactive Furby-like Gizmo, from the movie Gremlins, a Furby-like Interactive Yoda based on the Star Wars character, and a Furby-like Interactive E.T. from the movie of the same name. Another 'friend of furby', called Shelby, is similar to Furby, but looks like a clam, has lots of improvement in memory, and has a different personality; it was released in 2001 and can communicate with the original Furbies and Furby Babies. They also have sensors that can sense loud sounds, they can sense being upside down (they say things like "Shiver me timbers" and "Walk the plank", in the style of a pirate ship captain, when you leave them upside-down for a long period of time), and they laugh when you "tickle" them (their antennae - or "tennies", as they like to call them). They also purr when you "pet" them. You can feed them by sticking your finger in their mouth. Similarly, Shelbys do not have their own names, unlike the classic Furbies. Shelbys are also capable of knowing if it is talking to a Furby or another Shelby, saying phrases such as "Where's Furby?" - though they cannot tell the difference between a Furby and a Furby Baby - they just think it's a Furby. In addition to English, Shelbys also know some Furbish words and also have their own language called "Shelbish."

 some Holiday furbies are limited edition, they were made in 2001

Emoto-Tronic Furby

The latest kinds of Furby were released in August 2005. Larger than the other ones, the new Furbies have been upgraded with a more emotional face and a voice recognition system, letting them communicate with humans. Unlike the Furbies originally released, just one order is necessary to make them 'sleep', and they have an off switch. They can communicate with other types of Emoto-tronic Furbies, though to a smaller amont than the communication between original Furbies, and they cannot themselves communicate with the original Furbies. They also do not have light sensors and basic motion sensors. These Furbies, according to the story they come packed with, are from Furby Island.

Emoto-Tronic Furby Babies

In 2006, a new version of Furby baby was released, with most notable features being the new look and a more "Baby-ish" appearance in contrast to the Emoto-Tronic Furby adult. They also have considerably less features than the "adult" Furby, with a very limited vocabulary and a lower level of interactivity. Another notable feature of the 2006 Emoto-Tronic Baby Furby is the movable "legs", which unfurl when Furby baby is awakened.

Emoto-Tronic Funky Furby

The Funky Furby was released in August 2006 outside the US. They are limited to two color combinations (pink & yellow and purple & green) so far, and can sing three new songs and dance. They can be taught dance styles and remember them.

Furbish-English dictionary

Furbish is the language which is spoken by the Furbies. It is similar to English with a different grammar structure. A newly bought Furby starts out speaking entirely Furbish, the unique language with short words, simple syllables, and various other sounds, that all Furbies use, but are programmed to speak less Furbish as they learn more English as they "grow". Throughout a Furby's lifetime, it gradually learns English words and phrases, which it begins to speak in place of Furbish. The more English they learn, the more they "grow", making them more muture. The Furbish phrase "WHOA! Me deep sleep!" would translate into English as "Whoa! I slept for a long time!"

These are common Furbish pharses.

  • wee-tah-kah-loo-loo: Tell me a joke
  • wee-tah-kah-wee-loo: Tell me a story
  • wee-tee-kah-wah-tee: Sing me a song
  • u-nye-loo-lay-doo?: Do you want to play?
  • u-nye-ay-tay-doo?: Are you hungry?
  • u-nye-boh-doo?: How are you?
  • u-nye-way-loh-nee-way: Go to sleep now
  • u-nye-noh-lah: Show me a dance

Furbies may say these Furbish words:

  • doo?: What? (Furbies say this when called)
  • doo-dah: Yes (Furbies say this in response to a command before doing it)
  • boo: No (Furbies say this when they do not want to carry out a command)
  • yoo?: Why will you not play with me today? (This usually means the Furby is upset)

References

  1. "Furby a threat to national security?". CNN. 1999-01-13. http://www.cnn.com/US/9901/13/nsa.furby.ban.01. Retrieved 2006-12-18. 
  2. "New toy an interactive fur ball". CNN. 1998-10-05. http://www.cnn.com/US/9810/05/furby/index.html. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  3. Circuit-bent Furby at YouTube
  4. Kevin Rees. "Furby Bending Tutorial". Circuit-Bent.Net. http://www.circuit-bent.net/furby-bending-tutorial.html. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 

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