It's fitting that Charles Hall lives on the shores of Bainbridge Island. Because, really, where else would you expect to find the inventor of the waterbed.
Hall's big idea came at college in the bay area in the late 60's. But the initial design wasn't for a bed, but a chair.
"The product was comfortable but not practical. It weighed 300 pounds and you kind of disappeared into it and unless you had a forklift you couldn't move it,” Hall remembers. "I decided beds you don't have to move and that's where you spend most of your time so a bed would be a better project."
But the bed wasn’t an overnight success. It took a bit before his creation went from the classroom to the bedroom.
"Originally, waterbeds were kind of a curiosity and they would be sold, in San Francisco, in head shops. You'd buy a hookah pipe or a water pipe or a waterbed. But I always intended it to be a serious furniture product."
At its crest, one in five beds sold in America was a waterbed. But while sales were high, Hall didn't like the way the beds were being marketed.
"A lot of it was sold on kind of the freaky part and the sex part which are all valid, but the better sleep part is what it was all about."
Eventually, the tide turned on waterbeds and they fell out of fashion. But 50 years after they first came out, Hall wants to bring them back.
"This one has an extreme wave reduction so it barely moves. And it has a stretch top on it that allows the sleeper to sink truly into the water and be supported by the fluid below."
Hall hopes his improvements will catch on with first-time waterbed buyers, and those in a very particular demographic.
"Half the millennials were probably spawned on a waterbed, so sooner or later they want to swim back to their spawning ground and revisit it. And it's the time for them to do that."
So, while most people would kick back after a million dollar idea, Charles Hall wants to ride the waterbed wave he created one more time.
"It's great to come back and redesign and improve something that you started out years ago and can make better too."
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