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Hot Tub Time Machine, The Evolution of the Hot Tub – Part 1

Hot Tub

It’s Nebraska…it’s winter time…and it’s COLD outside!

During these long months of being stuck indoors, when all we can do is dream about the day we can reopen our pool(s), we take solace in the bubbly, relaxing, amazing-ness of our hot tub(s). Seriously…how much do you love your hot tub right now?!?

With that in mind, have you ever wondered (while you’re de-stressing in your spa) just exactly how it is that hot tubs came to be? Well, we did! So, we gathered up some fun facts about the evolution of hot tubs…all for your reading pleasure!

So, let’s take a trip back in time to the 1950’s. The Jacuzzi brothers (now we know where that name came from, right?) come up with a plan to help alleviate the pain a family member was dealing with due to arthritis – it was through this scheming that the hydrotherapy pump was born.

By the time the 1960’s rolled around, there was a new fad amongst homeowners – that being a small pool of hot water next to their outdoor swimming pool. These initial “hot tubs” had only one jet and, at the time, were viewed as accessories/extensions of pools only. It would be many more years before stand-alone hot tubs entered the mainstream market. During this time, the Jacuzzi brothers’ hydrotherapy jet had taken off (so to speak) and was becoming so popular that it was featured as prizes on game shows which, in turn, introduced it to all who watched TV. In the late 60’s, Roy Jacuzzi invented the first “self-contained” whirlpool bath that had fully integrated plumbing and jets with a 50/50 air to water ratio – he named this the “Roman”, in an effort to pay homage to the Roman bathhouses of days past.

Needless to say, the Jacuzzi whirlpool tub was a hit. This success spurred Jacuzzi on to continue his innovation by attaching a pump, motor, heaters, and filtration system to a self-contained tub…thereby creating the very first portable spa. During the 70’s, gunite spas became all the rage amongst homeowners, but getting one proved to be difficult as the crafting and manufacturing took weeks to complete. An enterprising west coast contractor by the name of Lee Gordon managed to solve this problem by crafting a new product…made from fiberglass. This was the decade that acrylic spas were also introduced – however, wooden hot tubs continued to dominate the market because of the simple fact that they were less expensive and were crafted of a material that people were familiar with.

Up until this point in time, one of the biggest hassles with these early hot tubs was the electrical system, because the switches and controls were located away from the tub (which meant that you had to get out and walk…brrrr, cold!…a ways to change settings or turn it on/off). An air switch was created which, in turn, solved this issue.

The early 1980’s brought with them some issues with this booming industry – poor craftsmanship. Fiberglass and acrylic surfaces were cracking, blistering, and splintering, leaving owners upset and discouraged. However, the boating industry saved the day once it was discovered that the material used to coat boats (a combination of a vinyl ester resin and acrylic) could be used to surface hot tubs, too.

The mid-80’s bring us 30 years into the evolution of the hot tub and, with that, we’ll come to a close for today. Make sure to check back soon for part two of our “Hot Tub Time Machine, The Evolution of the Hot Tub” series where we’ll take a look at spa innovations spanning the time between the 1980’s and present day. Until then, we’re going to reminisce a bit more about the 1980’s…pardon us while we go tease our bangs and pull out our leg warmers!

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