Mattel Barbie Digital Camera (1998)

Announced by Mattel on 1998-09-30. The digital camera was released with a special software package as the Barbie Photo Designer Digital Camera. Aimed at girls of age 6 and up it became an immediate success.The road to this camera however was a difficult one. Vision, a young company that was a spin-off of the university of Edinburgh, approached Mattel already in 1995 and proposed to make a digital camera for them using the new CMOS technology. Mattel however declined the offer as they could not imagine young girls plugging digital cameras into computers. Mattel was convinced however when they saw a short clip of a young girl easily handling a prototype CMOS digital camera. The Barbie cam came to life and went into production.

The camera itself was a bulky round chunk of plastic with a red LED, a fuzzy viewfinder and a distorted little speaker inside that made scary sound beeps. The hand strap was made of some sort of hard and transparent rubber with some glitter in it, totally uncomfortable. All this was intentional though, the strategy was to keep all kinds of digital camera features out of the camera to keep the price down.

The camera itself was powered up by a 9V block battery, resolution was a tiny 160x120 pixels with just enough internal memory to hold a few pictures. Well, you didn't know how much there were left because it was hard to interpret the sound beeps. Having wrestled your way with com ports and software, one was finally able to download the images from the camera into Barbie's Scrapbook where they could be processed for well... whatever. Since it was one of the first, if not the first, digital camera for kids, it did well on the market despite all the negativity. Within the course of one year more than 300,000 units were sold on american soil alone. In 1999 it made it's way over the pond to the UK and in 2000 it hit the german market. Of course an equivalent digital camera for boys was also available, the Nick Click Cam.

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Specifications

  • Brand: Mattel
  • Model: BarbieCam
  • First mentioned: 1998
  • Marketed: yes
  • MSRP: $69.99
  • Imager Type: 0.1MP CCD
  • Resolution: 160x120
  • Internal Storage: 300KB
  • External Storage: -
  • Lens: Fixed Focus
  • Shutter: electronic shutter
  • Aperture Range: -
  • LCD screen size: -
  • Size: -
  • Weight: -
  • Remarks: -

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