That's about one in every 10 people. I'd argue that the numbers are probably higher now because even in the last few years, we've come a long way as a society that accepts a sex toy for what it is: a fun diversion when the real thing isn't available. And sometimes even when it is.
Where did it all begin? Waaaay back, apparently.
What many historians believe may be the earliest dildos are depicted in Upper Paleolithic art.
Invention of the olisbos, the modern forerunner of the dildo, in the Greek port of Miletus. Apparently, the olisbos were sold all over the Mediterranean by traders who saw lonely women as their target market (I guess things haven't really changed all that much).
The Kama Sutra makes what is believed to be the first written mention of the "penis extender." These cylindrical devices would fit over a man's erect penis in order to:
a) make him look bigger, and;
b) give his partner more pleasure.
Ever since, men start packing their pants with cucumbers... useful and delicious!
Ben Wa Balls come to the world from Japan, but are also quite prevalent throughout Asia. In Japan they were also called Rin No Tama (tinkling bells), made of metal or ivory, they were (and still are) inserted into the vagina or anus in order to provide a mild teasing pleasure. (Come to think of it, an old co-worker of mine had a pair of these on his desk... I always thought they were for hand exercises. Now I feel dirty).
First use of the term, dildo! Michael Castleman, author of Sexual Solutions tells us that "In Renaissance Italy, olisbo became dildo probably from the Italian diletto, to delight. But compared with today's lifelike models, early dildos were hardly delightful. Made of wood or leather, they required liberal lubrication with olive oil for comfortable use." (Teenage boys everywhere get another word that they don't really understand to yell at someone they dislike).
The book Justine, by the Marquis de Sade, is published. This contentious work helps bring many of the toys such as riding crops, whips, nipple clips and restraint devices used in sexual play to the general public. (The general public places their collective hand to their forehead and faints).
Health spas begin to offer higher-tech alternatives to physician-aided manual vaginal massage to relieve female "hysteria." Hysteria was understood, within the medical profession, to mean sexual frustration. Massage with water jets, and steam-powered vibrating devices are offered en masse to the good women of Victorian England. (Soon thereafter, showerheads become every gal's best friend).
Due to the more widespread availability of electricity, the first electric vibrator becomes available. An American doctor designs it to treat "female disorders." (Women everywhere go to sleep saying 'thank you' to Benjamin Franklin).
First battery-operated vibrator is invented. (Energizer Bunny is doubtless born soon after).
The Penis Stiffener wins a U.S. patent. Developed by Louis Hawley, this device was a hollow, metal cylinder with an opening at one end for insertion of the penis and another at the other to allow sperm into the vagina. (Made for men with erection problems, this is the mechanical equivalent to a chemical end: Viagra).
The Sears Roebuck Catalogue advertises a vibrator as a "very satisfactory aid every woman appreciates." (Hmm... what could they mean?)
An advertisement in Heart's Magazine tells men to buy these vibrating devices for their ladies in order to keep them "young and pretty."
The Fleshlight is produced as a line of male sex toys designed to closely emulate various sexual acts, depending on the orifice, for masturbation purposes. The curious may consult fleshlight.com. Development of the product began in 1994 by Interactive Life Forms. A patent was soon granted to the company in 1998. Apparently, it feels so real that men actually think they're with a woman... until they ejaculate and then don't hear any complaining (Hey, that's not nice - Ed).
1999 (Two steps back)
Although not always enforced, the sale of sex toys in some southern US states is completely illegal. In 1999, an Alabama Assistant Attorney General argued that there is no "fundamental right for a person to buy a device to produce orgasm." (But... on the bright side, it's okay to buy a gun in a liquor store, marry your cousin, and fly the Confederate Flag).
Virtual Sex Machine, a Virtual Reality Sexual Simulation System is manufactured and made available to the public by Virtual Reality Innovations. Eric J. White is credited as the inventor. (Can't find a girlfriend in your science club? Build your own!)
Now, when I was in school, there wasn't a history course that taught this stuff. But there should have been. My attendance record would have been better. Also, such lessons would have shown us how much we have in common with our ancestors and with other cultures. Because, when you think about it... we're all just people who want to get it on.