12 classic toys that subtly prepared us for a lifetime of digital paranoia


Remember Furbies? Those cute little toy gremlins that learn English by talking and listening to you? By the end of the 1990’s, Furbies were everywhere, even at the NSA and the Pentagon where they were quickly banned after authorities feared they might overhear sensitive conversations and repeat them to the wrong ears.

But here’s a fun fact: Furbies “learn” English words in a preprogrammed series, not by listening. A Furby doesn’t actually contain any recording equipment at all! But that didn’t stop the US government from erring on the side of caution. Because, you know, loose Furbies sink ships.

What other popular toys induce the kind of surveillance paranoia we normally associate with the NSA? There are more than you’d think! From decoder rings to Hello Barbie, here’s an infographic with 12 toys that make cryptography, espionage, and mass surveillance fun for the whole family!

12 Classic Toys That Subtly Prepared Us For a Lifetime of Digital Paranoia

Remember other creepy toys? Let us know in the comments!


Please enter your name here
Please enter your comment!