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As a robot toy originating from Japan, the Tamagotchi has its roots in several other mechanical characters, including "Mighty Atom" and "Doraemon." The first robot playmate, Mighty Atom, originated from a comic book published in the 1950s. The second noteworthy robot character, Doraemon, came about in the 1970s.Mighty Atom's background story explains he was built as a companion for a father who lost his son. This creature was a robot cat with an over-sized head, sent from the future to guide a young boy.If the caregiver does a good job, the little animal thrives and evolves into more sophisticated, attractive forms of itself.If the animal is neglected, however, it becomes ugly and unruly.Initially marketed toward young school children, Tamagotchi took off with high school age Japanese girls.Bandai, its manufacturer, recovered from a serious business slump and immediately began exporting the toy all over the world. Other Japanese characters at that time took years to build a following.Within 5 months, Tamagotchi had been introduced in the U. Sailor Moon, a superhero schoolgirl cartoon, took three years to break into the market, whereas Power Rangers took a whopping eight (Allison, 163).At its peak, Bandai sold over 20 million Tamagotchis in Japan alone and another 20 million in foreign markets, including the U. The original idea behind the Tamagotchi was to create a pet or playmate that could be taken anywhere.
These robots, modeled after familiar forms, were popular because they attached themselves to real ideas within human psychology.According to one scholar, “manufacturers and distributors claim rarely to have seen such a meteoric rise of a product followed by such a phenomenal crash … At its most popular, fifteen Tamagotchis were sold every minute in the U. The toy was the brainchild of inventor Yokoi Akihiro.Motivated by a TV show in which a young child going on vacation put his turtle in a suitcase to bring it with him, Yokoi sought to make a "pet" that could travel everywhere, and thus the Tamagotchi was born.By promoting realism, they became something intimate to the user.
This nurturing image of the emotionally bonded robot repeats itself only a few times, before finally meeting with the worldwide success of the Tamagotchi.Despite the fact that Tamagotchis were oddly-shaped, animated creatures that lived inside plastic, egg-shaped key chains, their realistic behaviors created the illusion that they were actually "living." Users could even name their digital pets and give them unique, personal names in addition to the already branded name "Tamagotchi." This act alone brought the users closer to their virtual pets, because it marked the pets as their own personal property.