Understanding the History and Evolution of Mattresses, Part 2

understanding history evolution mattresses

Understanding the History and Evolution of Mattresses, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the important historical benchmarks related to the mattress. Evidence exists of mattresses being used in some form by humans dating back tens of thousands of years, all of which have contributed to the evolution of these products into the worldwide sleep aids they serve as today.

At 2 Brothers Mattress, we’re proud to not only provide new mattresses in a variety of forms, but also help you understand the history and production behind our products. Today’s blog will look at how certain modern mattress technologies, from innerspring to memory foam and many others, came to be invented and popularized.


One of the first modern mattress materials to be invented was innerspring, which was created by a man named Berliner Heinrich Westphal in the 1870s. Rather than using hay, wool, down or other stuffing materials, which was the trend at the time, Westphal used metal coils that had originally been made for carriage seats.

These coils created a firm, springy sleep surface that could provide support and would not compress under a human’s weight. It took several decades for innerspring to become popular, but it exploded on the market in the 1930s and has remained in demand to this day (modifications and upgrades have been made to the coils and other details, of course).


Created in the 1920s, latex foam is used for a variety of different products, including mattresses. The first latex mattresses on record were seen in 1931, and they remain available and popular today.


There are ancient historical examples of what may have been waterbeds, the first of which is from the Persians in 3600 BC – they filled goat skins with warm water and used them t sleep on. Later on, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, waterbed-like formats were used in medical areas.

The product you know as a modern waterbed, though, was invented in 1968 by a Masters thesis student named Charles Hall. Hall, attending San Francisco State University, designed a waterbed for his thesis project, and they became very popular for a time. However, they now only make up about 5 percent of mattress sales today.


Air-filled mattresses can be traced all the way back to 1896, where they were made with internal air chambers that could be adjusted. A more modern air bed format was released in 1981, though, and has persisted through to today with improvements in controllers and customizable materials.

Memory Foam

Known scientifically as viscoelastic polyurethane foam, memory foam was initially created by NASA scientists to help create better cushioning and crash protection for airlines. Its ability to compress under heat or pressure before returning to its original shape was viewed as valuable for this purpose.

Once it was released to the public in the early 1980s, though, it quickly became popular in mattresses. The first memory foam mattress was released in 1981, and was also regularly used in hospitals for a variety of patients.

For more on the history of mattresses and their various materials, or to learn about any of our new mattresses or adjustable beds, speak to the staff at 2 Brothers Mattress today.

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