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A bed
Whatever Happened To Waterbeds?
Waterbeds were invented by Charles Hall in the late ‘60s, and they’re far less common today than they once were. However, while they may be out of style, they’re still sold.
Early waterbed advertising was filled with innuendo about waterbed benefits for other bedroom activities, and early consumers found waterbeds a desirable sleeping experience.
Riding that wave of popularity, waterbed sales reached $13 million by 1971, being especially popular on college campuses. However, problems soon arose.
There were spills and floods when filling waterbeds up and accidents while people slept on them. Some weighed up to an immovable 1,600 pounds and had algae growing in the water.
By 1986, The New York Times noted a shift. The indulgences of the 70s were fading, there were safety issues, and waterbed bans were hitting college campuses, making sales decline.
In 2013, the Sioux City Journal said waterbeds made up less than 5% of the mattress industry — down from around 12% to 15% in 1986, as The New York Times reported that year.
Waterbeds are still manufactured and sold today. They’ve been updated to address their sloshing issues, among other comfort features and ease-of-use changes.
Instead of big bags of water, they now have a series of water-filled tubes. In 2010, a bed salesman told The Atlantic his customers like a waterbed’s feel, but they won’t buy one.