A popular children’s toy has been named the first domestic robot, the first robotic toy, and a threat to national security in the U.S. Can you guess which toy?
It was the cute, lovable, and interactive Furby! The Furby was produced by Tiger Electronics from 1998 to 2001, and again by Hasbro between 2005 and 2007. In fact, it has just been announced that the Furby will again line store shelves; it will begin production this summer with availability expected this fall.
The Furby, you might recall, was a robot covered in fur that featured large eyes and a beak and spoke Furbish, composed of simple syllables, short words, and unique sounds.
In fact, the toy’s instruction manual read: “I speak Furbish, a magical language common to all Furbys. When we first meet, this is what I’ll be speaking. To help you understand what I am saying, please use the dictionary that comes with me. Eventually, I will be able to speak your language in addition to Furbish. The more you play with me, the more I will use your language too.”
The Furby began its life speaking Furbish and slowly started to speak English the more the owner interacted with the toy. The latter part caused concern among security professionals.
Many speculated that Furbies could actually “learn” words that were spoken to it and even record classified information, which would compromise national security. This belief led to National Security Agency (NSA) officials banning the Furby from its premises in Fort Meade, Maryland. Have a mil/aero fun fact? This geek invites you to share it.