The first prototype of the waterbed was a chair filled with … Jell-O?

If you remember the ’80s, then you likely coveted — or owned — a waterbed. During the height of the liquid-filled mattresses’ popularity, one in five beds sold was a waterbed. In the 1960s, a graduate student named Charlie Hall came up with the idea, and he still owns three waterbeds today.

Great Big Story interviewed Hall for the video above at his home on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle. Naturally, he has an amazing view of the water. Hall came up with the idea for a school assignment aimed at improving people’s comfort. “So, I talked to physical therapists and doctors, and a whirlpool bath came up as a frequently mentioned item about soothing temperature and water,” he says. The first thing he tried was a chair filled with Jell-O, but it weighed 300 pounds. But when he brought his waterbed design to class, his fellow students were suitably impressed and Hall filed a patent.

Hall is still inventing and has created an inflatable canoe (did we mention the guy really loves water?) that you can fold up and throw in your trunk. And he thinks it might be time for a waterbed resurgence. “The second coming is upon us,” he says in the video, promising it will blow the original “out of the water” (pun intended). The newer models will be lighter weight and have less motion, better temperature regulation, a more comfortable surface and texture and deliver “even more groovy dreams,” Hall tells Digital Trends.

What’s interesting about the Jell-O chair idea is that there is a designer, Pouyan Mokhtarani, who came up with a chair that uses water-filled cushions for comfort. The futuristic-looking chair is just a design, so who knows how many pounds it would actually end up weighing?

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