The toy was called the Tamagotchi, Japanese for “loveable egg.” The Tamagotchi was a small, plastic egg-shaped unit attached to a keychain, with a tiny dot-matrix screen and three buttons. When the device was turned on, a virtual on-screen pre “hatched” from an egg. It was then the duty of the pet’s owner to keep it alive and pampered. The virtual pet used a system of beeps around the clock to tell when it wanted to play or eat. If the pet was neglected, it would eventually “die” and a new pet could be hatched at the press of the reset button.
By the time Bandai was ready to release the Tamagotchi in the United States in May, 20 million of them had been sold worldwide. However, one modification had been made before Bandai released the toy in the United States. After one Japanese girl committed suicide because her virtual pet died, Bandai executives decided to change the story-line for the American version. Each of the Tamagotchis that were to be sold in the United States hatched a creature from another planet, where it would simply return if it wasn’t cared for adequately.
Check out more of the rich history of the industry in Leonard Herman’s book Phoenix IV available at Rolenta Press www.RolentaPress.com and make sure to sign up to get Old School Gamer Magazine for free by clicking here!