REALTOR.COM -- Fifty years ago, Charlie Hall introduced the water bed to the modern world as part of his master’s thesis project at San Francisco State. (Fascinating fact: It started as a chair filled with Jell-O.) From there, he filed for a patent and launched the first water bed company.
Although Hall became a millionaire (through his water bed and other inventions), knockoffs of his bed abounded (awarding him millions more in patent infringement cases) before it fell out of favor. In his mind, the reason boils down to changing preferences in how people want beds to look.
“As time went along, a water bed’s box-frame look went from groovy to ugly,” he explains.
Customers wanted a sleeker look in their bedrooms. To accommodate this, Hall added more padding between the water and the body, which minimized a waterbed’s original advantages: reduced pressure on the body and the ability to control the bed’s temperature.
But after an overhaul, it’s coming back for another round. Hall and his original business partner, Michael Geraghty, have recently introduced a new version of the water bed, dubbed Afloat.