The Tamagotchi (たまごっち Tamagotchi?) is a handheld digital pet, created in Japan by Akihiro Yokoi of WiZ and Aki Maita of Bandai. It was first sold by Bandai in 1996 in Japan. As of 2010, over 76 million Tamagotchis have been sold world-wide. Most Tamagotchis are housed in a small egg-shaped computer with an interface usually consisting of three buttons, although the number of buttons may vary for different variations.
According to Bandai, the name is a portmanteau combining the Japanese word "たまご" (tamago), which means "egg", and the English word "watch"(ウオッチ uocchi). Consequently, the name is romanized as "Tamagotch" without the "i" in Japan. But recently in Japan, the romanized name has changed to the American "Tamagotchi" with the i. At the end of most Tamagotchi character's names, excluding some newer characters like Makiko, is 'tchi' or 'っち' in Japanese.