Jump to content

Put In A Quarter, Turn Out the Light, Magic Fingers Makes Ya Feel Alright


Recommended Posts


His Magic Fingers Moved the Motel Set

By Matt Schudel

Washington Post Staff Writer

John Houghtaling, who put a little buzz in America's motel rooms with his invention of Magic Fingers, a once-ubiquitous device that caused beds to vibrate in a gentle rocking motion, died June 17 after a fall at his home in Fort Pierce, Fla. He was 92.

Mr. Houghtaling (pronounced huff-tail-ing) had been a successful salesman of vitamins and cookware when he began working for a manufacturer of vibrating beds in the 1950s. Because the beds were expensive and unreliable, Mr. Houghtaling decided that there had to be a cheaper and more effective way to make them.

He had always been a handyman and tinkerer, and in the basement of his home in Glen Rock, N.J., he experimented with 300 motors before finding the right formula in 1958. If the motor was too slow or too fast, he learned, it could either toss someone off the bed or not move at all.

He patented a small, hand-size device that clipped onto a bed frame and produced a vibrating effect. The motor didn't shake the whole bed, son Paul Houghtaling said in a telephone interview, but created a gentle vibrating sensation through the resonance of sound waves among the motor, bed frame and springs.

Mr. Houghtaling traveled to motels throughout the country to demonstrate his invention, which was marketed under the slogan, "It quickly takes you into the land of tingling and relaxation and ease."

It cost 25 cents for 15 minutes, and the quarters quickly added up. At the peak of its popularity, Magic Fingers could be found in 250,000 motel rooms and Mr. Houghtaling's company was taking in $2 million a month. Magic Fingers became a part of pop culture, with mentions in a song by Jimmy Buffett, on the TV show "Roseanne" and in the Doonesbury comic strip.

Click here to read the remainder of the article.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...