Barbie was first released on March 9, 1959 at a toy fair in after seven years of battling disagreements. At the time, Mattel was the third largest toy company in the United States. Ruth's display of Barbie was housed at the New Yorker Hotel in a hotel room, since so many businesses brought their toys to put on display. She had to halt the projected production that she assumed she would acquire in business orders at the fair. It was a disappointing day for Ruth and Barbie. In March 1959, Barbie debuted as a teen fashion model on television with more positive response leading the way for the dolls popularity rise. A blonde Barbie from this decade in mint condition has an price listing of five thousand-$5,250. The brunette Barbie that was made at the same time is worth $1,000 more than the blonde.
In the 1960s Barbie's friends joined the line up of fashion dolls. was her boyfriend and came to be in 1962. The Ken doll got his name from Ruth's son. was her friend who was a redhead meeting the toy marketplace in 1963, a year after Ken. was Ken's friend. was her little sister that was produced in 1964. were her twin were introduced in 1966. was her adult cousin. In 1967, Francie was changed into the first black Barbie doll causing consumers to believe it reflected the support of interracial marriages. Since this was during Civil Rights' time, she was not very successful. Twelve months later Mattel introduced , the second black Barbie, who was much more accepted. and were also produced as Barbie's black friends. The roles of Barbie evolved as equality for women's rights progressed. The doll started in the 1960s portraying stereotypical female positions like teacher, stewardess, nurse, etc. A series of novels were also written introducing Barbie and her birthplace in the 60's. Bendable legs and swivel hips were introduced on Barbie in 1965. created them. Hairstyles of the Barbie's in the 1960s were typically the classic bubble-cut hairstyle of the era taken from the First Lady of the early 60's . The Barbie that is worth the most from this decade according to "Schroeder's Collectible Toys" is Color Magic Barbie made in 1967. Her hair and costume changes color. If it is complete with its cardboard box, it is worth $4,000.
Ruth Handler, Barbie's creator, has been blamed for taking the Barbie doll design from a doll made in Germany in 1955, the doll that was sold mainly at tobacco shops for men post war. Lilli was originally a cartoon character in a newspaper in Germany created by in 1952. had , a doll maker of theirs get a patent for Lilli's limb design. Ruth is rumored to have purchased a few of the dolls while in with her family. The Barbie doll has been in competition with other toy companies' doll designs. began making in 1962, challenged Barbie's sales in 1963 with , and started producing the in 1964. However, none had the popularity of Barbie. At the time of production, Tammy gave Barbie creators a financial scare. She was based on a movie character played by . Instead of being surrounded with friends and boyfriends, the doll came with a mother and father, which might be why her popularity never surpassed Barbie's.
A bunch of Barbies were first seen in partying in an aisle at Al's Toy Barn. , , and drive by this aisle, looking for , when the Barbies catch their attention. After Hamm asks for directions to (the owner of the store), jumps into the car and navigates them around Al's Toy Barn. She drives the toys through the Hot Wheels aisle, eventually reaching the aisle, where they pick up a instead of 's (who is left behind, having been trapped in the cardboard box by that Buzz).