Furry Fandom : "A popular cultural phenomenon and a community of people who are interested in aspects of animals and animal/human beings in art, literature, visual media and/or as the basis for a personal philosophy and/or lifestyle."
The earliest forms of 'Furry' enternainment was way back in the 1800's. An author by the name of Hans Christian Andersen wrote animal related fairytales in 1836. Edward Leir who wrote a poem, 'The Owl and the Pussycat' in 1871, Lewis Carroll who wrote the famous fantasy novel 'Alices Adventures in Wonderland' in 1865, the ballet 'Swan Lake' by Tchaikovsky in 1875. In 1890, Beatrix Potter illustrated childrens books. In 1894, Rudyard Kipling with 'The Jungle Book'. In 1896, the first appearance of intelligent animal characters in science fiction appeared in the book 'The Island of Doctor Moreau' by H. G. Wells, and James Swinnerton was the first to have anthropormorphic animals in comic strips in 1895 called, 'The Little Tigers'.
It's clearly evident that the furry fandom originated in the 1940's called 'Funny Animal Fandom'. People who were interested in animal characters and the like, all gathered at fantasy, comic, and science finction conventions and held room parties. In the late 60's and early 70's, funny animals were mostly meant for adults like the advent 'Fritz the Cat' by Robert Crumb, or the Beatles dressing up in fursuits for the cover of Magical Mystery Tour.
In the 70's 'Furry Folk' was the common term for animal puppets. 'Furry', 'Furry Friends' was a popular name for 'Funny Animals' because it wasn't funny and it was meant for all kinds of animals, not just the ones that stood upright and wore clothes. Even today, such entertainment as the movie 'Over the Hedge', the characters were called 'Furries'. (lol)
Now 'Furry' is a term for animal based fantasy. Richard Adam's 'Watership Down' (I love this movie) and 'Jonathan Livingston Seagull' by Richard Bach were best sellers in the early 70's! Fantasy changed though, it began to take advantage of the mature attention it was getting. Ewoks and Wookies in Star Wars as well as the Piers Anthony novels grasped adult audiances everywhere! (I luv doz ewoks xD)
The furry fandom started with a little chat by Steve Gallacci at a 1980's Science Fiction convention, spawned by a drawing in his Albedo (I'm assuming it's a book), about anthro characters in science fiction novels, which then, a group of individuals met up at various sci fi and comic cons. Furries were then meeting up at the World Science Fiction Convention in Boston Massachusetts. Steve Gallacci entered his 'Erma Felma' painting there and it sparked common interests which lead to Rowrbrazzle clubs and more formal 'furry parties'. (yey parteez!)
In 1982, 'The Secret of NIMH (my all-time favorite movie!) and 'The Flight of Dragons (which I think I saw), 'The Last Unicorn (i still have it on VHS lol) and 'The Plague Dogs (sounds cool and never saw it D: ) were released as well as some novels, 'Albedo' (I was right lol), 'Redwall', 'Spellsinger', 'Cutey Bunny', 'Critters', 'Usagi Yojimbo', 'Omaha the Cat Dancer' and TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES'!! Who doesn't luv dem herps? c: By the time 1987 rolled around, there was enough interest to host the first ever furcon!
As internet became more of an outlet for furries all around the world, virtual environments were created like 'MUCK', FurryMUCK and SecondLife. There's more to it, but in short, Furries have BOOMED LEIK FLAOR CHILLENS and now they're as common as the cold lol. :3 Go out and hug a furry! Where would the fandom be without you!?
Reference : furry.wikia.com/wiki/History