Aki Maita – The Creator of Tamagotchi
Aki was around 30 years old when she came up with the Tamagotchi virtual pets. Hoping to work with children, she joined Bandai in 1990, working in sales and marketing. She came up with the idea of a portable pet when she saw a commercial of a young boy trying to carry his pet turtle around.
In October 1996, she passed out prototypes of the toy to 200 high school girls in Tokyo. The toy went on sale the following month, on November 23, 1996. It was originally developed as a gender-neutral brand, but as the majority of the audience was women (over 60%), the toy would later be marketed primarily to girls, while Aki would later help develop Tamagotchi’s brother franchise, Digimon.
I have an important update about this and I need to clarify some misinformation.
Aki Maita is not the creator of Tamagotchi. However, she was one of the lead developers when the project was developed, and she helped solidify many of Tamagotchi’s defining characteristics.
The actual creator of Tamagotchi is Akihiro Yokoi, a former Bandai employee who went on to create WIZ, a manufacturer handling Japanese toy planning and development.
During Tamagotchi’s initial success in Japan in 1996 and early 1997, Aki Maita was promoted by Bandai as the “Mother of Tamagotchi”. It wasn’t until a lecture in July 1997 that Akihiro Yokoi was properly credited for the creation of Tamagotchi. Both Akihiro and Aki were awarded an Ig Nobel Prize for their work on Tamagotchi, credited jointly as “The Father and Mother of Tamagotchi”. That same year, WIZ would develop and launched with Bandai the Digimon virtual pets, meant to be a boy counterpart to Tamagotchi.
Akihiro Yokoi retired in August 2016, and Aki Maita is currently the manager of celebrity actress and singer Ikue Sakakibara.
Sorry if my initial post was misleading for any of you!