We are now so used to communicating with a robotic device in our homes, that the idea of them listening and responding does not really confront us. This skill cost Furbies a national ban in the US.
Furbies remain in history as one of the first and most successful domestic electronic robots. Released in 1998, more than 40 million of this owl-shaped talking toy have been sold. Your Furby could speak in 24 languages, gradually evolving from gibberish talk to the chosen tongue. This at-the-time unusual capability got the toy banned by the National Security Agency in the US.
The NSA apparently found it possible that in the 90’s a toy that cost 30something euros could listen and report confidential conversations to a secret wire conspiring against the government. Eventually, after some months and the efforts of the toy’s manufacturer, Tiger Electronics, the agency stepped back and lifted the ban.
What is still well-known about Furbies though, is their tendency to creep the hell out of many many owners, accompanied by the impossibility to switch them off. Many Furbies have been locked in wardrobes, hid in the dark, with batteries removed. A mom even diagnosed an arising multiple personality disorder to the daughter’s Furby, which went from giggling with a cute delicate voice to growl in a deep, dark tone with angry eyes.
Were you traumatized in the past by your Furby and want to reconcile with the little guy? Here are three activities to help you do so:
- You can evil-laugh while not one but two of the furry toys get cut in half - and find out what they hide inside! Was the NSA actually wrong?
- Grab some fabric, paint and scissor, your old Furby, and make it grow longer! And if you do so, please send us some pictures.
- For the music lovers, here is an outstanding repurposing of the Furbies (many, many of them) from the designer “Look Mom No Computer”: get ready for the freakiest organ you've ever seen.