The inventor of waterbeds joins the e-commerce mattress wars

The inventor of the waterbed is back with a new waterbed for the era of direct-to-consumer mattress sales.


December 7, 2018

Charles Hall, the man who invented the waterbed in his San Francisco State University dorm room during the Summer of Love, will start selling “second-generation” waterbeds online next month through his mattress startup, Afloat

Drowning in a sea of waterbeds

Hall began selling his original bed, the Pleasure Pit, in the late ’60s for $350 per mattress. Though he patent-protected his watery wares, fluid fraudsters filled the market with cheaper iterations. Hall’s company went into bankruptcy in 1975.

By 1991, just 1 in 5 mattresses sold was a waterbed — and by late ’90s, Hall and fellow waterbed believers were left out to dry. 

But recently, the future of mattresses has become less firm. With traditional giants struggling and startups like Casper achieving direct-to-consumer success, the Waterbed Wizard will try to replicate his watery wonder.

All that grooviness — now available online! 

Hall’s original brochure described the Pleasure Pit as “a friend in love with you, beckoning you to grovel in rapturous sensual splendor.” Afloat’s new, e-commerce-optimized website describes “a bed that totally supports and conforms to the shape of your body.”

A queen Afloat bed costs $1,995 to $2,395 and weighs 1.2k lbs when filled. In a retail test in Florida, they sold out quickly.

Afloat advertises both the particular benefits of waterbeds (contoured fit, temperature control) and the general perks of digital mattress startups (online ordering, a 100-night guarantee, free), resulting in a fever dream of the old and new, the shagadelic and the SEO-optimized.

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