Invention Geek – Magic Fingers?

Question from Carrie:

I was listening to Jimmy Buffet’s song “This Hotel Room” and one of the lines is- “Feel alright, feel alright. Magic Fingers makes you feel alright.” I remember hearing that Magic Fingers was popular in motels a while back. Who invented it?

Hey Carrie,

magicfingersJohn Houghtaling invented Magic Fingers in his New Jersey Home in 1958. He received patent 3,035,572 for a vibrator on May 22, 1962.

Magic Fingers was a vibrating bed relaxation system found in many motels during the 1960s and ’70s. It was installed onto millions of beds and in exchange for a quarter, the bed would provide 15 minutes of vibrating relaxation. The device was marked by a label reading; “Magic Fingers quickly carries you into the land of tingling relaxation and ease.”

Houghtaling was a salesman for a company that sold vibrating beds. The bed and the vibrating motor were sold together as a single item. While fixing a broken unit, Houghtaling realized that the vibrating motor was the most essential element and not the bed itself. He wanted to design a vibrating unit that could be attached to the box spring of any bed. He tested about 300 motors before finding the right combination that was light in weight and made the bed vibrate at a comfortable frequency.

At the height of its’ popularity, Magic Fingers collected about $6,000 to $7,000 a month in quarters.