Whatever Happened to: Furbies

Story by Emily Albrent

Furbies have always given me the heebie jeebies. When I was 8 years old I received my very own fluffy, purple, wide-eyed Furby for Christmas. I was less than amused.

I soon realized that it never stopped talking; it’s like it had a mind of it’s own. That little gremlin-lookalike kept me up at all hours of the night. I would bury it under the living room pillows to try to put it to sleep but all it would do is repeat, “Whoa! Whoa! No light, whoa,” while clicking its eyes up and down.

Furbies looked like little owls with abnormally large pink ears and had sensors that allowed you to interact with them. You could do everything from tickle to feed them. They had their own language called “Furbish,” and the longer they were played with, the more they started to speak English, or any of the other 24 languages they were programmed to speak.

Furbies were designed and created by Dave Hampton and Caleb Chung and were placed in stores in 1998. According to the site VirtualPet.com, Furbie’s popularity peaked in 1999 with 14 million furry toys sold. The sales slowly leveled off and became stagnant once the 90s ended.

Furbies also became a cause of concern for public and government security. According to BBC News, the National Security Agency in Maryland was worried that because the Furbies contained a computer chip that allowed them to record what they heard, that they could be used as possible spies. The Furbies were thereby banned from NSA facilities.

Furbies are no longer in production, but if you wish to revisit your childhood, they can be found on websites such as Amazon and eBay.