Ruth and Elliot Handler launched Mattel in 1945 out of a Garage Workshop in Southern California. The first Mattel products were picture frames, but Elliot soon develops a side business in dollhouse furniture made from picture frame scraps. Encouraged by the success of the dollhouse furniture the Handlers soon sell out their picture frame business to their partner in order to focus their efforts in making toys.
By 1948 the Handler’s incorporated their business and established their headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
In 1959 inspired by her daughter’s fascination with cutout paper dolls, Ruth Handler suggests making a three-dimensional doll through which little girls could play out their dreams. She names the doll “Barbie” after her own daughter’s Barbara nickname. “Barbie” soon leads Mattel to the forefront of the toy industry and fascinates generations of young girls.
After becoming publicly owned in 1960, Mattel by 1965 reach $100 Million in sales and become a Fortune 500 Company.
In 1968 Mattel rolled out their “Hot Wheel” cars for the first time. More than 41 Millions kids grow up with the brand over the years, with many enthusiasts continuing to be loyal collectors as adults.
In 1975 after 30 years Ruth and Elliot Handler leave the company.
Mattel entered the fast growing electronic games market in 1977 and two years later launched their Intellivision home video entertainment system.
In 1980 Mattel briefly dabbled with electronic chess computers when they introduced the world’s first LCD screen handheld electronic chess computer.
Mattel continues to be one of the world’s leading toy manufacturers.