Who invented the sex doll? The history of sex dolls and who makes them now

Who invented the sex doll? The history of sex dolls and who makes them now

Have you ever wondered how sex dolls came to be? It’s certainly a tale social historians will unpack in years to come.

What started as leather puppets became life-like robots over the course of just a few centuries and the technology behind them shows no sign of slowing down with more and more realistic dolls being released.

Who said the human race hasn’t achieved anything? Let’s take a trip down memory lane and unbox these creations:

The history of sex dolls

Ai Kaneko is 'packaged' into a product box for a shipment, after being transformed into a sex dollAi Kaneko is 'packaged' into a product box for a shipment, after being transformed into a sex dollEPA

One of the earliest recorded instances of the use of sex toys was in the 17th century when hand-sewn leather puppets made by Dutch sailors were traded with Japanese sailors. Sailors were reportedly lonely on long voyages and so, one thing led to another.

Fast forward a few centuries to the 1930s, author Anthony Ferguson reckons that this is when German surrealist artist Hans Bellmer invented the more modern version of sex dolls.

Sign up to our new free Indy100 weekly newsletter

“The uncanny, eroticised models created by Bellmer in the 1930s differed from the functional sex doll only in that they lacked the necessary orifices for penetration,” he notes in his 2010 book Sex Doll: A History. Those orifices came into being at the end of World War II, with the invention of the inflatable sex doll.

If you are to believe urban legends, however, you might think they were invented by one Adolf Hitler. Theories knocking around say that he made them to stop Germans sleeping with non-Aryan women and others say he made the policy to prevent sexually transmitted diseases among Nazi troops. No evidence is yet to be published proving that these claims have any substance though.

A couple of decades later, in the United States, sex dolls were first advertised in porn magazines around 1968, when it became legal to sell sexual devices through the post.

And as time has progressed since then, these dolls have become more and more lifelike with new silicone materials paving the way to surely stamp out the need for humans altogether (not). Now, in the 21st century, talking sex robots even exist bringing artificial emotional intimacy to the table. The full package.

Who makes sex dolls?


A leading manufacturer of sex dolls is Abyss Creations, which was founded in 1997 and makes a doll known as the RealDoll. The company now also makes transgender dolls and silicone breasts for trans females.

Another company, Sinthetics, launched a doll in 2010 and the company Gynoid makes dolls that can smile, chat a little, blink and even get goosebumps.

These are just three companies but there are countless more manufacturing sex dolls and robots.

Who buys them?

A sex doll from the RealDoll companyA sex doll from the RealDoll companyRealDoll

In an interview withThe Independent, Matt Krivicke, who works for Sinthetics said the majority of buyers are “just people with a fascination for the human body”.

He also said couples buy them as well as singletons as a way to explore sex with new partners. “Couples find the dolls a safe way to introduce another partner as there are no emotions. It’s sexual exploration without cheating,” he said.

“There are lonely middle-aged men who don’t necessarily want to stroll through the dating minefield again, there are handicapped and disabled folks for whom sex dolls are convenient and non-judgmental companions, then there are couples like us who wanna add another dimension to their love-life without additional emotional baggage,” Gynoid’s website says.

“Also, increasingly there are folks who just think that a sex doll suits their lifestyle better.”

Meanwhile, there have been reported cases of people saying they have fallen in love with their dolls and in the future, it has been suggested they can be used to keep lonely and elderly people company if they do not have human companionship.

Outside the US, it’s reported that the three largest international markets are Germany, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

So now you know.

The Conversation (0)