How Many Barbie Dolls Have Been Sold Since 1959?

many-barbie-dolls-sold-1959 Credit: Ian Waldie/Getty Images News/Getty Images

According to the Washington Times, Barbie manufacturer Mattel does not know precisely how many dolls have been sold since 1959, but sales figures number in the billions. Every three seconds a Barbie doll is sold somewhere in the world.

American businesswoman Ruth Handler first hit on the idea for the Barbie doll while watching her daughter Barbara play with paper dolls. While most dolls on the market at the time represented infants, Handler had the idea that young girls might find an older doll, with changeable outfits, more appealing. Although Mattel executives were initially skeptical of the idea, around 300,000 dolls were sold when Barbie debuted in 1959, and those numbers only continued to rise.