It always seemed to me that Microsoft Barney was a powerful toy. It could be connected to a PC (running Windows of course) and data in the form of sampled speech could be uploaded into it (through a port in Barney's butt).

I have always wondered if there was a way to modify Barney into a swearing, foul-mouthed monstrosity through data uploaded into him. If anyone has information on Barney-hacking please tell me!

Microsoft Barney is part of Microsoft's ActiMates collection of toys. They are a series of PC-aware interactive toys for children. There is a Barney doll, Arthur and DW dolls (from the PBS Arthur show), and Teletubby dolls. They hook up to the PC through a port on the rear of the doll, can play many stand alone games, and interact with the PBS broadcasting station to "play along" with the shows.

I always thought these items were a novelty, when I saw them on the shelves in various retail stores. As a QA engineer, I enjoy many of the weird bugs that come along with any complicated piece of hardware or software. Found in the Microsoft Knowledge Base among miscellaneous sound card troubleshooting issues is, article 172653, containing this mildly humorous possibility:

Sometimes Barney Starts Playing Peekaboo on His Own

SUMMARY Sometimes Microsoft ActiMates Interactive Barney starts playing peekaboo on his own. This occurs because Barney's eyes are light-sensitive and adjust to changes in lighting. Therefore, sudden light changes, such as moving into a dark room, passing under a shadow in direct sunlight, or passing under direct incandescent lighting, may cause ActiMates Barney to start playing peekaboo.

Given the considerable amount of flack that both Barney and Microsoft get across America, this bug was given a large jeering on the Internet from many sites. The Actimates line, which includes the Barney doll, didn't do stellar in the marketplace, but enjoyed some mild success in limited markets. It is outshadowed by similar toys in the same segment, such as the Furby from Tiger Electronics.

Resources: Microsoft Actimates Home Page:

KB article from

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