Maker of Famous Vibrating Bed Dead

The Magic Fingers Vibrating Bed made motels the place to be for a good ride

By Todd Wright
|  Friday, Jun 19, 2009  |  Updated 5:19 PM CDT
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Maker of Famous Vibrating Bed Dead

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Motels everywhere should thank John Joseph Houghtaling for the vibrating bed.

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Some inventions just can't be duplicated.

Magic Fingers Time

The "Magic Fingers Vibrating Bed," a coin-operated fixture in American motel rooms in the 1960s and 70s, is one of them, if not for the name alone. Its inventor, John Joseph Houghtaling, died Wednesday in his Fort pierce home at the age of 92.

Tinkering in the basement of his New Jersey home, Houghtaling invented the "Magic Fingers" machine in 1958. It caused beds to vibrate when a quarter was dropped in the device. He moved the company to Miami in 1968 and remained its president until he retired in the 1980s.

The kitschy devices made their way into pop culture - celebrated in song by Jimmy Buffett and Frank Zappa and the cause of a beer explosion in the movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles."

The device was mounted onto beds, and a quarter bought 15 minutes of "tingling relaxation and ease," according to its label. Other vibrators have since jumped on the idea, making the same claim. But there can be only one Magic Fingers.

"Put in a quarter, turn out the light, Magic Fingers makes ya feel all right," Buffett sang in "This Hotel Room."

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