Before Furbies or Nano Kitties came the electronic pet that kicked off one of the biggest trends of the late 1990s. Tamagotchi was the first pocket-sized digital companion: a computerized alien pet that you could raise and care for through birth, maturity and, eventually, death. This egg-shaped electronic taught an entire generation of kids the true meaning of responsibility, or just as often, a tough life lesson about how much work goes into raising an IRL animal. 

The original Tamagotchi was conceived by the Japanese developer Akihiro Yokoi and released by the toy company Bandai. It hit the American market in the spring of 1997, and to date, over 82 million Tamagotchi devices have been sold worldwide. The word Tamagotchi is a mash-up of tamago — the Japanese word for egg — and the English word for watch. At the height of their popularity, it’s estimated that a Tamagotchi device was sold every 15 minutes in the United States and Canada. 

As the virtual pet trend dominated the latter half of the 1990s, kids everywhere were responsible for the regular feeding, cleaning, and entertaining of these beeping and chirping alien accessories. Leave your Tamagotchi unsupervised for too long and you would come back to a crabby companion. In July 2019 Bandai released a revamped version of the nostalgia-inducing toy, this time featuring an all-color screen and improvements to the interactions that owners can have with their portable pets.  

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