The Tamagotchi [ta̠ma̠ɡ̃o̞t͡ɕːi̥] is a handheld digital pet, created in Japan by Akihiro Yokoi (ja) of WiZ and Aki Maita of Bandai. It was released by Bandai on November 23, 1996 in Japan and May 1997 in the rest of the world, quickly becoming one of the biggest toy fads of the 1990s and early 2000s. As of 2010, over 76 million Tamagotchis have been sold world-wide. Most Tamagotchi are housed in a small egg-shaped computer with an interface usually consisting of three buttons, although the number of buttons may vary.
According to Bandai, the name is a portmanteau combining the Japanese word tamago, which means "egg", and the English word "watch". Consequently, the name is sometimes romanized as "Tamagotch" without the "i" in Japan. Most Tamagotchi characters' names end in tchi in Japanese, with few exceptions.