The Baby Einstein Music Box Orchestra
Julie Aigner-Clark was a new mother and former middle-school art teacher who wanted to teach her baby to love the arts. The trips to the museum didn't seem to be having an effect on her infant, so Aigner-Clark decided to make a video in her basement. With investment and help from her husband, that video became a series, and the series made its way to the shelves of baby stores in 1996. Named after the 20th century's premier scientific genius, the product hit the market just as studies were emerging that linked classical music and brain development in babies. And so Baby Einstein took off, growing to a $10-million-a-year enterprise by 2000 and offering a diverse range of books, toys, CDs and DVDs. In 2001, it was acquired by the Walt Disney Company, which increased Baby Einstein's reach as a primary producer of "edutainment" for kids aged three months to three years. While critics claim Baby Einstein plays on parental anxieties and discourages crucial face-to-face interaction, those concerns haven't hurt the company's bottom line, and it continues to produce its products apace.