In 1998 western society nearly crumbled. What was the cause of its near demise?

The Furby.  Released in 1998 this toy drove kids and, by extension, parents absolutely nuts.  

Surprisingly, the toy's inventors, Dave Hampton and Caleb Chung had some difficulty licensing the toy. This is likely because the toy creeped the heck out of most toy companies. 

Finally, Tiger picked the toy up and started marketing it. When the Christmas shopping season hit, all hell broke loose, which is ironic when you think about it, because Christmas is supposed to be about the birth of the one whose mission it was to overcome Hell.

Any way, there was a massive shortage of the things so people started selling them for two, three and even four times the MSRP. Parents started literally decking other parents in order to get that last precious Furby. To make matters worse, America was still recovering from the Great Tickle-Me Elmo Shortage of '96. It was pure pandemonium.

So what was so great about this toy?  The creatures spoke a language of gibberish which was slowly replaced with real English as the Furby "learned."  In reality the Furby is programmed to replaced gibberish terms with English as time goes by.   Many kids (including me) believed that the Furby learned to repeat words it heard said around it.  This belief was so far-spread that several institutions (including everybody's favorite big brother, the NSA) banned them from their offices for fear of the Furby revealing company secrets.  

Most of the original Furbies now lay in a box or dump, forgotten and unloved. Thus is the life of fad toys. But be vigilant; you never know when your old Furby is going to seek you out for revenge.

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