I just want to share my impressions.
Last weekend I had visited a flee market (i like to visit such a places, where occasionally an interesting things can be found at a laughable price). And spotted a Furby. An original one by Tiger Electronics, not one of that cheap McDonalds' imitations. With tags "Original Furby" and "(c)Tiger Electronics '1999" and in a good external condition. Bright yellow with orange tummy and ears inside. And when I asked for a price... it was less then $2 US! I was never interested in Furbys before but just cannot stand. It's an animatronic toy after all...
And my excitement was great, when I brourt ih home, inserted a batteries and woila! It's alive!
So, after a some disassembly, washing the furry "skin", cleaning and greasing the mechanism, I have a fully functional Furby Baby Generation 1 "Sunny Yellow". Like this:
Just one drawback - it's a German version, i.e. it speaks Furbish and Deutsch, not English. And I almost don't know Deutch. OK. I just learned some words (ich mich, sonne, spielen, liebe, etc.)...
So, enough history, let's go to impressions...
Also, I had never before considered Furby as serious robotic toy or toy-robot, I had changed my mind completely! It's not enough to say that it's not just a simple "talking teddy-bear". It's a shame, but it seems that this previous millennium artifact with just one electric motor and 3.58MHz 8-bit CPU is much more "personality-packed robot" then, say RSv1 or Femisapien, or todays Tiger Electronics/Hasbro creations like Furreal Friends Cat. Yes, it's mechanically simplistic (but very cleverly designed), but it have a whole bunch of sensors: 3 touch sensors (not capacitive - just a mechanical switches) for "tickle"(tummy), "pet"(back) and "feeding" (tongue inside a mouth/beak), 1-bit audio sensor (sound/no sound), 1-bit photosensor (light/darkness), 3-positional tilt ball-sensor (upright/lying down/upside-down) and IR-interface (emitter and receiver) to communicate with other Furbys.
The features that amazed me most:
1. It have a EEPROM (Flash), so it does not forget it's status upon battery discharge or replacement.
2. It have a name! The name is randomly selected from a (rather big) preprogrammed list (Ah-May, A-Loh, Ay-Tay, Boh-Bay, Boo, Dah, Kah Dah, Kah, Doo-Moh, E-Day, Koh-Koh, Loo-Loo, May-May, May-Lah, May-Lah Kah, Mee-Mee, Nah-Bah, Dah Noh-Lah, Noo-Loo, Toh-Dye, Toh-Loo, Toh-Loo Kah, U-Tye, Way-Loh) upon a Full Reset (called Re-Start in manual) and then stored in EEPROM and automatically substituted in Furby's phrases. Mine was initially "A-Loh" but after a full restet became "Kah".
3. You can "tell" (select by touch sensors, when it prompts you) it to call you "mommy" or "daddy"! Again it is stored in EEPROM.
4. It's reactons to sensors stimuli are variable enough to be not very predictable and borig (including yawns, farts, laughs, sort of purrs, yum-yums etc...). And that depends on it's status or "mood". I.e. if it is "hungry" or "ill", it will not laugh or sing a songs but will complain to "mommy" or "daddy".
5. It's "lips" or "beak" opens and closes in sync with the words it says.
6. The need to learn Furbish to understand it is an interesting idea! Unfortunately, Furby Babies "learn" (begin to speak) Human Language (Deutsch in my case) instead of Furbish just too quick for me. I even think of full-resetting it again. As I have read, Adult Furbies have a longer "learning curve" so one can enjoy learning Furbish a longer time after a full reset.
So, my verdict is - Furby is a legendary animatronic or robotic creature. A definite golden classic, in some cases unsurpassed even now, 10 years after it's debute!
P.S. I just ordered some cheap used V1 Adult Furbys on eBay for further experimenting. According to manual, Adults seem to have some more functionality than Babies: dancing (tilting body forward/back in sync with a singing a (preprogrammed) songs) and a "conditional reflexes", so user can "reinforce" a specific reaction of Furby to a specific stimuli by "petting" it (pressing it's back sensor twice) after it performs a desired "bodycon". Hope, they will be English.
P.P.S. It would also be interesting to try a year 2005 "Version 2" of Furby, officially called "Emoto-tronic Furby" in contrast to years 1998-2000 "Version 1" "Electronic Furby"...