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article designed to be played with, chiefly for children. Archaeological research has revealed numerous playthings from prehistoric civilizations. Early Egyptian, Greek, and Roman dolls, tops, balls, rattles, hoops, and miniature representations of furniture, houses, and dishes have been preserved. Mechanical toys, often created for the amusement of adults, have been popular since the Middle Ages. Toys made by individual artisans were early distributed in Germany; they were at first sold chiefly by peddlers at fairs. The use of sheet-metal stamping in Nuremberg c.1850 introduced the first large-scale manufacturing methods. The manufacture of toys is an important industry in most countries. Although many new toys are created each year, some, especially dolls, balls, art materials, and blocks, retain their popularity year after year. Educators and psychologists, beginning with Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel and Maria Montessori, have stressed the role of toys in the mental, emotional, social, and physical development of children.


See A. Fraser, A History of Toys (1966); G. White, Antique Toys and Their Background (1971).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an object intended for play. In re-creating real and imaginary objects and forms, toys serve the goals of intellectual, moral, aesthetic, and physical upbringing. They help the child learn about the surrounding world and train him for purposeful activity; they also develop thought, memory, speech, and emotion. Toys are widely used in educational work with children, particularly to develop their technical and artistic creativity. A toy’s type, character, content, and design are determined by the specific educational tasks appropriate to the child’s age, development, and interests. As objects of decorative and applied art, toys, particularly traditional ethnic ones, are used to decorate contemporary interiors.

The content and forms of toys are directly related to a society’s social structure and the level of its culture.

Since ancient times, toys have been fashioned in the shape of people, animals, tools, and objects of everyday life. Dolls made of wood and cloth, animal figures, and leather balls were known in ancient Egypt in the third millennium B.C. Toys have been unearthed in children’s graves of classical Greece and Rome. They included dolls, animal figures, objects of daily life, hoops, tops, and rattles; according to Pliny and Plutarch, there were toys with wind-up mechanisms even then. The toy trade developed in Athens and Rome.

The oldest toys in the present territory of the USSR were found among the objects of the Fatianovo culture in the second millennium B.C. Toys were found in excavations of Slavic town sites of the Middle Dnieper Region (sixth to eighth centuries A.D.). Clay whistles in the shape of animal figures, as well as dolls and dishes, have been discovered in the excavations in Rado-nezh, Kolomna, and Moscow (from the tenth to the 18th century).

Toy handicrafts developed in feudal society. Expensive toys were created for children of the privileged classes. Some toys were intended to amuse adults—for example, French and German wind-up toys. In Western Europe, centers of toy production arose in the Ore Mountains, Nuremberg, Thuringia, and Limoges. The first toy industries in the territory of the USSR started in the 12th century in Novgorod, and by the 17th century the handcrafting of toys was widespread. A number of Russian craftsmen of the 17th to 19th centuries devoted themselves to creating ceramic toys; wooden toys, either turned on a lathe (the Viatka and Babeuki toys) or carved, and often brightly painted; and toys made of papier-méché or mastic (toys from St. Sergius Posad, now Zagorsk). Industrial production of metal, rubber, and celluloid toys began in the late 19th century. In the early 20th century plastics and synthetic materials were introduced, which necessitated specialization of production and significant capital investment.

There are definite pedagogical, aesthetic, health, technical, and economic criteria for toys, and various classifications of toys exist. There are models, teaching aids, and educational games as well as scientific, theatrical, carnival, musical, hobby, sports, and motor-driven toys. The division of toys into such groups is arbitrary; the same toy can serve several developmental and educational aims and be used in games of varied content and character. In industry toys are classified as dolls and games, by the material of manufacture (plastic, wood, metal, rubber, cloth and stuffing), or by function (musical, electromechanical, writing, drawing).

Industrial manufacture of toys abroad is most developed in the USA, Japan, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), Great Britain, and Italy. The major exporters of toys are Japan, the GDR, and the FRG, and the largest importer is the USA. In the USSR, toy production was intensively developed from 1950 to 1970, and toy handicrafts were revived and further developed. A branch of industry for the manufacture of toys was created. In 1959 the Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted the resolution On Expanding Production, Broadening the Assortment, and Improving the Quality of Children’s Toys. There were more than 800 enterprises, including over 100 specialized factories, producing toys in 1972. Over 10,000 different kinds of toys are available in the USSR, and more than 1,000 new models are developed annually (mainly by the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Toys, created in 1932, and by the creative organizations of the Artists’ Union). Specialists in the manufacture of toys are trained in the Zagorsk Industrial Arts College (Moscow Oblast) and in other specialized educational institutions. The House of Toys, a major specialized trade center, was created in Moscow in 1961. Zagorsk is the home of the Museum of Toys.



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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A computer system; always used with qualifiers.

1. "nice toy": One that supports the speaker's hacking style adequately.

2. "just a toy": A machine that yields insufficient computrons for the speaker's preferred uses. This is not condemnatory, as is bitty box; toys can at least be fun. It is also strongly conditioned by one's expectations; Cray XMP users sometimes consider the Cray-1 a "toy", and certainly all RISC boxes and mainframes are toys by their standards. See also Get a real computer!.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (
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