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 and make sure to sign up to get Old School Gamer Magazine for free by clicking here!

Leonard Herman Leonard Herman (26 Posts)

Leonard Herman, The Game Scholar, is regarded as one of the earliest and most respected videogame historians. The first edition of his book Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Home Videogames, which was published in 1994, is considered to be the first serious and comprehensive book about the history of videogames. He has written articles for Videogaming & Computer Illustrated, Games Magazine, Electronic Gaming Monthly, the Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, Pocket Games, Classic Gamer Magazine, Edge, Game Informer, Classic Gamer Magazine, Manci Games, and Video Game Trader, which he also edited. He has also contributed articles to several videogame-related books, including Supercade, The Video Game Explosion and The Encyclopedia of Video Games. Mr. Herman has also written the book ABC To the VCS (A Directory of Software for the Atari 2600), a compendium of game summaries. He has also written and designed user's manuals for the following Atari VCS games: Cracked, Save the Whales, Pick-Up, Rush Hour, Looping, The Entity and Lasercade, as well as the user's guide to Ralph Baer's Pinball! for the Odyssey2. In 1994, he founded Rolenta Press, a publisher of videogame books, whose catalogue included Videogames: In the Beginning, by Ralph H. Baer, the inventor of the videogame console, and Confessions of the Game Doctor by Bill Kunkel, the world's first videogame journalist. Two Rolenta Press books were included in a list of the top ten videogame books of all time by Game Informer magazine in 2008. Mr. Herman has served as an advisor for Videotopia, Classic Gaming Expo and the National Videogame Museum. He has appeared in several episodes of G4's Icons and in the documentary, The King of Arcades. In 2003, Mr. Herman received a Classic Gaming Expo Achievement Award in recognition for his accomplishments in documenting game history