It started with 151 pokemon [pocket monsters that you captured and battled against one another] (though many think it was 150) and the airing of the first episode of Pokemon in Japan April 1, 1997. It aired in the US the following year.
What followed could never have been really predicted. Suddenly, not only was there an anime for Pokemon, but a game in which you were the trainer yourself going around and catching pokemon (the game was being worked on before the anime even came out). Each game that came out had a slightly tweaked story, but the goal remained the same –catch all the pokemon, battle them with trainers and gym leaders, become a pokemon master.
New pokemon were being added, but not all of them were available on each game. So what was a trainer to do? Trade them, of course! This gives pokemon the spreadibility while still maintaining a drillability. Not only could you share your pokemon with others, you were the trainer! You were the one who helped save the people in your region from the “bad guys” who only wanted to use pokemon for evil! You fought for all of the pokemon researchers and helped maintain the balance of peace between trainers and their pokemon.
Pokemon only grows from there. The story arcs are all very similar and can intermingle quite well, but the franchise began to evolve. Suddenly there were pokedexes outside of the anime / game and into your own hands! Then there were the pokemon card games, where you could trade and battle in a card game format rather than trying to sync up expensive gameboys and n64s. There was even a manga that came out, though it was slightly different as pokemon were able to kill and be killed in this new universe.
The story, however, remains fairly consistent and the merchandise that comes out reflects some of those stories. Now that the original pokemon series is over, another series (that is so very closely related) has come home, still keeping some of the main characters from the original. The world is growing in the pokemon universe as new regions, pokemon, and characters pop up with every new game and episode of Pokemon. With each new installment added to the pokeworld, more merchandise comes out in the for of games, toys, movies, online games, cards, clothing, lunch boxes, and even themed furniture!
I wish I could tell you every single thing about pokemon, as I really enjoy it, however there would never be enough words to possibly explain how diverse and in depth pokemon really is. It’s a huge world that you can jump into at any time, but can also go to the beginning to enjoy the entire story if you so wished.