It is interesting to note that waterbeds have existed for a much longer time than most people would expect. In short, some people have claimed that the concept of a waterbed can be tracked back for multiple millennia, with the earliest versions consisting of goatskins that had been filled with water warmed up by the sun. However, the first waterbed that has been confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt comes from a Scottish physician named Neil Arnott, who came up with the concept because he wanted something that could help prevent bedsores in invalids. As a result, Arnott created a waterbed that used a canvas covering that had been impregnated with rubber before making his creation available to interested individuals free of charge because he wanted to help other people.
With that said, the modern waterbed wasn’t invented until 1968 when a student named Charles Prior Hall wanted to make a new chair of some sort. Initially, he started out by filling a cushion with cornstarch, which had serious problems because the cornstarch would rot. Eventually, Hall settled on making a waterbed by filling a mattress with water, thus resulting in a patented product that he would sell on his own as well as license out to others for them to sell as well.
Why Did Waterbeds Become So Popular?
Earlier on, waterbeds were marketed based on their usefulness for ensuring a good night’s sleep. Later on, well, suffice to say that waterbeds became associated with sex, which made it very popular in the 1970s when a significant percentage of the population was going through the Sexual Revolutions that stretched from the 1960s to the 1980s. Combined with the sheer novelty of the waterbed, it was no matter that the sales of waterbeds grew and grew for some time. Moreover, as waterbeds became more and more popular, different kinds of waterbeds were made as well, which were put to different uses in different places. Eventually, the sales of waterbeds would top out in 1987, which saw waterbeds taking up something like 22 percent of the total market for mattresses.
Why Did Waterbeds Lose Their Popularity?
Unfortunately for the people selling waterbeds, they started losing their appeal soon afterwards. There are a number of reasons why waterbeds started losing their popularity in the 1990s, but for the most part, they can be summed up as said product having been beaten out by something better for most mattress buyers out there.
First and foremost, the waterbeds of those times were huge inconveniences. In part, this was because people had to pump hundreds and hundreds of gallons of water into their waterbeds, which tended to be located in hard-to-reach place for the hose needed to provide that much water. However, it should also be noted that so much water made waterbeds extremely heavy, so much so that they couldn’t be moved without the use of an electric pump or something similar to remove the water before moving them. On top of this, waterbeds were very vulnerable to damage, which wouldn’t just create leaks that would have to be patched at further cost of time and money but also created a serious risk of flooding their surroundings. Something that was particularly loathed because of the additional challenges of cleaning up after water damage.
As a result, when mattress manufacturers started coming up with mattresses that offered similar levels of support as waterbeds but with none of their hassles, people started switching over. After all, if they could get the same or perhaps even better results with something that presented less hassle to own, their shopping choices would naturally gravitate towards that superior option. This was particularly true because the waterbeds of their times were even more inconvenient than their modern counterparts, which have actually gone through a number of changes to make them more useful as well as more convenient to potential buyers.
Unfortunately, those improvements don’t seem to have been enough because the market for modern waterbeds is best-described as being sluggish. In fact, the situation is so bad that waterbed businesses have to sell their products via either phone or online, which enables them to reach out to a bigger customer base that isn’t concentrated in a particular region. Moreover, some businesses are even avoiding calling waterbeds by their actual name because that can drive away some potential customers, who might like the feel of such mattresses but not the images that are associated with them. As a result, it is safe to say that waterbeds have fallen far from their former place.