Skip to content
The History of Adjustable Bases

The History of Adjustable Bases

How Did Adjustable Bases Come To Be?

The idea of adjustable bases has been around since the Roman Empire when the emperors, senators, and elite would congregate for meals by lying on their sides. The structure of these beds would look like today's outdoor furniture, for example, lawn chairs. They did not have the adjustability that lawn furniture has, but the concept and design of having the head raised higher than the rest of the body was clearly there for comfort.

But this was just an incling of where we could go with this technology. But how did it begin? Let’s find out.

1874 First Movable Bed Frame- Simple Hinged Head

In the 16th Century, there was a rudimentary understanding of the adjustable base. In 1874, the Andrew Wuest and Son’s moveable bed frame debuted. The 1800s version simply had a hinged head that elevated. It took a few more decades for an adjustable base that resembled those we see now to be developed.

1909 Adjustable Bed Base is Invented- Dr. Gatch’s Bed

It wasn't until the 19th Century that one man developed the equivalent of adjustable bases. Dr. Willis Gatch created his base, which would soon be serving the military during World War I. 

Hospitals in the early 1900s, used the Gatch Bed to help wounded soldiers sleep, recuperate, and rehabilitate. Dr. Gatch took wanted to prevent patients from developing an infection from being left lying flat following surgery, so he wanted to create a way for those patients to move without further injuring themselves or risking their recovery. Gatch took it upon himself to invent a bed system that allowed a person to sit up at rest to drain surgical lacerations properly.

The bed became the basis for all adjustable bed frames that followed. Split into three separate sections, the bed could be positioned in different postures suitable to the patient’s needs. 

During WWI, the Gatch Bed aided soldiers, and in fact, Gatch’s bed became the standard for the modern electric hospital beds still used today. As the results of his bed were seen, hospitals around the world started embracing the technology. As the century moved forward, so did the ability to make adjustments to the beds in hospitals. 

Adjustable Bases Modernized for Hospital Use

Newere bases started being developed, and while they still followed after Gatch’s patent, they were enhanced with additional features to accommodate hospital needs. Earlier bases were controlled with a crank at the bed’s foot and then some paired this with electric units. However, developers knew this could be improved by making bases fully electric so that nurses, doctors, and patients alike could control them with the touch of a button.

The Fowler Position

Later, Dr. George Ryerson Fowler saw the need for the bed to adjust even more into what’s now called Fowler’s position. Here, the head of the bed lifts up to a 90-degree right angle to allow for easier patient feeding, breathing, and grooming, along with better drainage after certain procedures.

Added Hospital Features

To assist hospital needs, the following was also offered:

  • Wheels
  • Side Rails
  • Exit Alarm
  • CPR Function Position

People also soon realized that if it could help in a hospital setting then it could surely be used in the home as well.

1974 Adjustable Bed Base Goes from Hospital to Home Comfort

As more and more people started adding TVs to their bedrooms, reading a book in bed, and many other activities, developers soon realized that an adjustable base could be wonderful in a home. 

The bed was becoming a center for reading, watching TV, and enjoying quality time. This is when the Craftmatic Adjustable Bed company was formed in 1974. They were the first to develop bases explicitly for home use.

Soon, ads started showing couples sitting up reading and watching a favorite show, and swiftly moving into a reclined position for a peaceful night’s sleep. These types of bases were also shown making it easier for elderly, and those recovering from any ailment, to get comfortable in their bed and get in and out.

The Craftmatic beds aimed to bring the basic hospital bed into the home in an appealing way. The adjustable bed frame didn’t change much from the hospital design at first, but as times went on and people’s desired changed, the bases got a much more fashionable and tech-savvy upgrade.

21st Century Tech-Advanced Adjustable Bases

The 21st Century brought technological advancements to every industry, and the mattresses and adjustable bases didn’t miss out. Memory foam mattresses perfected their cooling and comfort abilities and paired perfectly with adjustable bases to provide incredible comfort and relaxation options for everything you do in your bed not just sleep.

In so many adjustable bases, you’ll find massage options, USB charging ports, Bluetooth, beautiful new design that makes the base at home in your decor, and much more, making them the smart bed that so many people want in their homes. 

Additional Modern Life Extras

Wireless and app remotes are a standard for modern frames now and used for more than just raising and lowering the head and foot. Most of these remotes now include:

  • Preset positions for watching TV, reading, and even zero gravity
  • Programmable Memory Options
  • Built-in massage with variable intensity
  • Under-Bed LED Lighting
  • A built-in remote flashlight

The adjustable base market has grown significantly and into a multi-million dollar industry. You’re sure to find one that suits your comfort needs, whether they be purely for enjoyment or as a result of mobility issues.

More and more people are seeing the health benefits of using an adjustable base during times of sickness, deal with arthritis or lower extremity swelling, if they have heartburn, GERD, or back pain, and even when recovering from an injury or surgery. It’s also just exponentially more comfortable when you’re reading or watching your favorite show or movie. Using an adjustable base can also improve sleep apnea and snoring. 

The advantage of having a comfy extra-large movable bed to play, work, eat, and dream in makes the adjustable base a home furnishing necessity.

If you have any questions about adjustable bases or need help finding the perfect model, contact us over the phone or through email at

If you want help with your search, check out the Adjustable Base Buying Guide or find the perfect mattress with the Mattress Buying Guide.

Previous article Leggett & Platt S-Cape Adjustable Base Review
Next article Adjustable Bed Safety for Pets & Children -- What to Know