Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Nicole. Nicole Wonders, “How old is barbie” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Nicole!

It seems like many of today's forms of entertainment have to be plugged in. Some even need to be connected to the Internet. Despite the proliferation of electronic gadgets, though, some of our favorite toys are still things like board games, balls, and dolls.

Many kids still love to unplug and play with these hands-on toys. A walk down the toy aisle of your local store will show you that toy cars, hula hoops, and jump ropes remain popular today. And one "old school" toy might be more popular than ever. What are we talking about? The Barbie doll, of course!

Have you ever played with a doll? While boys might prefer to call them "action figures," dolls have been popular toys with both boys and girls for hundreds of years. Long ago, dolls were often handmade at home out of materials found around the house, such as pieces of cloth and corn husks.

For most of history, dolls were made to look like babies (thus the term "baby doll") that young children could pretend to take care of. All that changed on March 9, 1959, though. That's the day Barbie made her debut at the American Toy Fair in New York City.

Inspired by her daughter Barbara, Ruth Handler created the Barbie doll as an older, lifelike figure to help children focus on the future and what they might want to be when they grow up. According to Handler, her "whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices."

After founding Mattel Creations with her husband Elliot, Handler made the Barbie doll the first mass-produced doll in the United States with adult features. Its original design was based upon Lilli, a German doll that was based upon a cartoon character. At almost a foot tall with long, blond hair, the Barbie doll became a huge success, selling 300,000 dolls in its first year.

Barbie's full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, and she hails from the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin. Due to her early popularity, Mattel created other dolls to join her, including her boyfriend Ken (named after Handler's son), best friend Midge, and little sister Skipper.

Year after year, the lineup of Barbie toys available expanded. In addition to supplemental toys, such as cars, houses, and fashion outfits, various versions of Barbie herself have been produced, reflecting a wide variety of careers, including airline hostess, pilot, doctor, astronaut, Olympic athlete, and even U.S. presidential candidate.

While Barbie's popularity over the years is undeniable, not everyone is a fan. Many critics say Barbie promotes gender stereotypes and unrealistic expectations about body image. The other side of the argument says Barbie encourages imagination and self confidence.

In spite of the debate, Barbie is still an enduring icon today. Although Barbie turned 50 years old in 2009, by that time, sales of Barbie merchandise had passed $1 billion annually. Since her debut, well over 800 million Barbie dolls have been sold around the world.

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow in Wonderopolis we’ll explore the rhythm of life!