Graduation 'class of 98' Barbie with blue cap and gown (boxed). Barbie was first invented by Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel who still produce Barbie today. She wanted to produce a more grown up fashion doll for her daughter Barbara who Barbie was named after. The first Barbie was launched at the 1959 Toy Fair. Barbie has reflected the fashions of the times over the decades and has proved a phenomenal success, popular with girls and adults alike as the dolls have become highly collectable.