Weird Sunday - Remember Magic Finger Beds?


I suppose you were thinking this was going to be a take off of Dick Greenberg Weird Twitter, right.  Well in all honesty it started out that way - in a round about way.  Yesterday Mr Banana noticed a pretty sizable water leak by the neighbors property so he reported it to the city. This morning while enjoying a quiet Sunday morning we heard a lot of big trucks out in front. Huh? What the heck is going on?  Of course Barney is barking up a storm and not happy with 'intuders' as it's his job to keep the house secure. So much for a quiet morning.


A guy comes to the door and says - sorry but we have to dig out in front of your house most of the day to fix a leak and it's going to be very noisy - so sorry.  


We had plans to meet a bunch of friends for brunch so we weren't too concerned about the noise.  After we got back from brunch the pounding started up really loud again.  I said to Gary- geez I feel like I'm in one of those magic finger beds from the 60's!!!


Gary says - did you know a distant relative of mine was the inventor of magic fingers. No're joking!!  Well no he wasn't joking! He 'googles' it and sure enough a Mr. John Houghtaling's name comes up as the inventor!


Tinkering in the basement of his New Jersey home, Houghtaling invented the "Magic Fingers" machine in 1958. The device was mounted onto beds, and a quarter bought 15 minutes of "tingling relaxation and ease," according to its label. "Put in a quarter, turn out the light, Magic Fingers makes ya feel all right," Jimmy Buffett sang in "This Hotel Room."


In a 1963 New York Times profile, Houghtaling said he was selling beds with a built-in vibrating mechanism when he realized during a repair job it would be much cheaper to create something that would attach to the outside of an existing bed.


"After ripping away the frills, I found that it was the vibrator that counted, not the bed," he recalled. "Magic Fingers was born then and there."


He moved the company to Miami in 1968 and remained its president until he retired in the 1980s, when the rights to the device were sold. The current owners still sell the machines for home use. After he retired, Houghtaling continued to invent and sell coin-operated machines, such as scales and pulse-checking devices.


In its heyday, there were about 175 Magic Fingers franchise dealers across the country, and the gadgets collected about $6,000 to $7,000 a month in quarters.


By the late 1970s, the dealers complained they spent more money to repair the devices that thieves broke open. Houghtaling developed a debit card-like system for the machines to replace the coin slots, but the idea never took off. "He was trying to move it to a cashless mechanism so people wouldn't have any reason to break into them," his son said. "Unfortunately, it was kind of ahead of its time."

History from CBS News

Picture courtesy of


So there you go - a little Weird Magic Fingers History for all of you that remember those fun beds and for all of you who have no idea of what I'm talking about!And for those of you that know I live with an engingeer who's always dreaming up new stuff it's clear it's simply in his genes!


Weird Sunday - Remember Magic Finger Beds?


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Anna "Banana" Kruchten
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Anna I am starting to be concerned about you.  Sounds like you might have had experience with a magic finger bed ........ LOL

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) 11 months ago


We were just talking about the Magic fingers with friends as we were driving today!  What a coincidence.  A

Posted by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy (Napa Consultants) 11 months ago

Well I am one of those people that never heard of them. Probably would be fun to see if the back liked it. Interesting and fun read. Hope they got the leak fixed.

Posted by Sharon Lee, Retired and loving life (Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance) 11 months ago

Thanks for a bit of interesting history. I do remember those beds - but don't recall whether I ever put a quarter in to see if I liked it.

Posted by Marte Cliff, your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) 11 months ago

Hi Anna- I'm not sure if I remember them or saw them in a movie!  Chalk it up to a senior moment!  How interesting that Mr. Banana (Gary) is a distant relative.

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 11 months ago

I remember these and I remember feeling like I was being assaulted!

Posted by William Feela, Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No. (WHISPERING PINES REALTY) 11 months ago

Oh, what a trip down memory lane...I remember these from childhood vacations whenever we stayed in motel rooms.  I can also remember begging my parents to please please please give me a quarter!  LOL

Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) 11 months ago

Yes, I do remember them.  I remember being on vacation with my parents back in the early 1960s.  My mom and dad used at least 4 quarters on one of those.  I swear you would have thought it was the luxury of a lifetime.

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) 11 months ago

I have some change in a jar Anna Banana Kruchten,CRS,CRB,GRI  That sounds pretty good right now . Yes I do remember Happy Sunday

Posted by Hannah Williams, Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818 (Re/Max Eastern inc.) 11 months ago

Yes I remember those beds in mid-range hotels and when I stayed in one I felt embarrassed to try it out, now I wish I did so I could say I did:))Endre

Posted by Endre Barath, Jr., Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices) 11 months ago

Wow Anna Banana Kruchten,CRS,CRB,GRI - this has all the makings of a featured post!  I remember magic fingers from when I was a kid and it was offered in select motels and hotels!

Posted by Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers, Serving Scottsdale, Phoenix and Maricopa County AZ (BVO Luxury Group @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty) 11 months ago

Hi Anna... it took me a minute to remember what magic fingers beds were. I remember they were a real "feature" in many motels years and years ago. But I can't say I ever stayed anywhere where this was offered.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (RE/MAX Executive | Charlotte, NC) 11 months ago

Hi Anna, 

I love this kind of trivia.  Of course, over the years, I have stayed in many motels that had the "Magic Fingers" beds!  I remember giggling up a storm the first time I put that quarter in. Not unlike sleeping on a water bed the first time. It was such a novelty. 

Posted by Sheri Sperry - MCNE®, (928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR® (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) 11 months ago

Good morning Anna. I remember those beds. What a blast from the past. I heard the word digging and grimaced. Glad you missed most of it.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) 11 months ago

Hi Anna - Interesting story! I do remember those beds - I think I spent a few quarters before deciding the sensation wasn't that magic.

Posted by Dick Greenberg, Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate (New Paradigm Partners LLC) 11 months ago

I do and I also remember the 25c it tool at the Holiday Inns that had them.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) 11 months ago

I never heard of Magic Fingers, but found this post interesting!

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate (Vision Quest Realty, Martha Hilton, Broker) 11 months ago

My parents thought these machines were the reason God created quarters Anna Banana Kruchten,CRS,CRB,GRI 

Posted by Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS,, Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority! (RE/MAX Professionals.) 11 months ago

Oh my gosh, Ray & I were talking about those a few weeks ago, Anna and how cool that Gary is related to the inventor?!

I remember having a fabulous time on those when we were traveling to and from 'grandma's' house as children - SO fun! They were the video game babysitters of our generation! LOL

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods ( | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) 11 months ago

Oh Mr Banana you just went up in the Active Rain hierarchy, being connected to the Shacking Bed inventor:)) love it, Endre

Posted by Endre Barath, Jr., Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices) 11 months ago

Hi, Anna --- what a fun story and an ActiveRain connection through Gary 'Banana' Houghtaling makes it even more earth-shattering of sorts.  

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena Area Real Estate 818.516.4393 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) 11 months ago

Hey Anna - that was funny and even funnier that you thought I was pulling your leg about that distant relative of mine!  Michael Jacobs YES this is indeed earth-shattering news - kind of like my fake man bun I just wrote about on your post!

Posted by Gary 'Banana' Houghtaling, Phoenix Real Estate Agent (Phoenix Property Shoppe) 11 months ago

WOW congratulations on the magic bed relatives!

Congratulations on hitting  2.5 Million points!

Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) 11 months ago

I remember the magic finger beds. Thank you for the reminder. Have a good day.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) 11 months ago

Funny thing, i saw the magic fingers, immediately thought of Jimmy Buffett Anna Banana Kruchten,CRS,CRB,GRI , and boom, you mentioned him.  My favorite guy

Posted by Scott Godzyk, One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents (Godzyk Real Estate Services) 11 months ago

Wow!  I have never heard of Magic Fingers.  It was interesting read about it and hopefully, the leak was fixed in short order.

Posted by 1 ~Judi & Don Barrett & Chassy Eastep - Integrity, BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK (Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745) 11 months ago

That's quite a story, Anna, and a REAL step back in time. Yep I do remember those beds. But to find out Gary is related...WOW!

Hopefully all is now well at your neighbors!


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad (Solutions Real Estate ) 11 months ago

                          Thank you Anna Banana Kruchten,CRS,CRB,GRI 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 11 months ago

Good mornign Anna. Remember when these were popular in motels! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker (Wayne M Martin) 11 months ago

OMG...that is too funny! A celebrity connection in AR. LOL

Yes, I do remember those beds and loved reading about their invention!


Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) 11 months ago

Heeee, I think I will just say, wow!  I sort of recall those, never used/seen them live!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) 11 months ago

We were just talking about those with friends last week. Who knew Gary is a relative of the inventor. Can't wait to tell Bernie as he was the one who brought up the subject. :) 

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) 11 months ago

That's an interesting tale indeed.  Pretty cool that Gary has that distant relative that just so happened to invent the Magic Fingers.  Not something that comes up in conversation much, I'm sure.

My husband keeps trying to tell me his cousin invented the chocolate fountain for rentals at weddings, etc.  Somehow, I doubt it.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) 11 months ago

What an interesting story! And it's so neat that the inventor is a relative!

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, 11 months ago

Good morning Anna Banana Kruchten,CRS,CRB,GRI , cool is this! I'm so glad I read Kathy Streib Sunday post on her light bulb moments for the week! I'm playing catch up after being gone and I missed this one. I do remember these coin operated bed vibrators and it doesn't suprise me an engineer type related to Gary 'Banana' Houghtaling was the inventor!

Posted by Dorie Dillard, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799) 11 months ago

Fascinating! Thank you for the history lesson on the magic fingers!

Posted by Corey Martin, Real Estate and Management Solutions (Martin Presence Group) 11 months ago

I remember these beds at the roadside motels we periodically stayed at when I was a child. 

Posted by Lynnea Miller, Premier Real Estate Service in Central Oregon (Bend Premier Real Estate) 11 months ago

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