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Dreaming Inside the Box: 1927

Dreaming Inside the Box: 1927

Nov. 28, 1927. "Washington man sleeps in a blanketless bed. Milton Fairchild of Washington, D.C., does not need any blankets for keeping him warm these winter nights. He has invented an electrical bed which does not require any covering for the body when asleep. Furthermore, according to Mr. Fairchild, an 'electric blanket' is healthier and one is not so susceptible to colds. The temperature is maintained constant throughout the night by automatic controls." Milton, you are so close. Just a couple more tweaks and you will be sitting pretty, or at least reclining more comfortably. Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.


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The Warmth of Electric Sunshine

Milton Fairchild founded the Character Education Institution and seemed to be a bit of a kooky racist.

The Baltimore Sun, March 2, 1924.

Sleeping Box to Supplant Blankets — Maybe

Throw your blankets in to the discard and sleep in the warmth of electric sunshine. Stop smothering your skin with heavy bedclothes. Cut out the bath of poisoned vapors in which the human race has been soaking itself since the first nights of creation and give the body a chance to breathe.

Milton Fairchild, of Washington has blazed the way. This keen student and thinker has shed new light on our manner of repose. In an electric bed he has found the secret of scientific sleeping and made the first step toward removing us from the crude slumber customs of the cave dweller. For the swaddling couch covers of our ancestors Fairchild substitutes the electric light. Instead of suffocating the body he combines air circulation with perfect comfort.

The Fairchild invention is a sleeping box resting on a matress and sheet. Within the box are four lamps of 40 watts each, blazing away at full tilt, while he sleeps and bathing his body in soothing and cheerful glow. Switches within easy reach permit the lamps to be regulated at will and any of them may be turned off or on for change of temperature.

In going to bed the occupant crawls into the box through the opening at one end. His head only is left in the open. A blanket spread across the top of the box and draped over the shoulders curtains the lights and leaves the room in the darkness needed for restful sleep. Air circulation is afforded by the holes in the upper part of the box, and in this compartment the sleeper slumbers as natured intended, with skin-breathing unhampered by the swaddling, burdensome and unhygienic covers of his cave-dwelling ancestry. …

Of special significance is the possible influence of the principle on the perpetuation of the race—particularly among the people of higher intellect. Mr. Fairchild has a belief that race suicide attributed to the scholarly professions is a matter of nerve condition. He feels any factor for the improvement of nervous vitality will be reflected in the birth rate and that the use of the electric sleeping box may prove the needed influence.

“The high-strung mental workers represent the productive force of the race,” he declared, “and it is on them that the millions depend for the advancement of mankind. To give new impetus to the intellectual minority would be distinctly worth while and I have reason for the hope and belief that in this new method of sleeping there is a contribution of value to the attainment of this end.” …

In Washington the name of Fairchild is well known. Milton Fairchild is a student and a leader in educational development in his position as chairman of the Character Education Institution. …

Why not

use the money he would have spent on that contraption and buy a nice new unstained mattress and some cosy warm blankets?

Some additional features-

Milton could also likely heat his morning coffee, make toast and fry up some bacon and eggs without leaving bed. And if he raised poultry... well the possibilities are just endless.

Design by the Little Rascals

Odd lengths of rope, sash weight, frayed wire old plumbing and a certain amount of spit and sweat. This has everything! The inventor seems to have worn a wing collar to bed.


I was just thinking how the guy that invented the microwave oven was actually trying to invent something else. I think it was some kind of audio or video transmitter or receiver. At any rate, he had a chocolate bar in his coat pocket, and when he turned the device on, the candy bar melted.

Thank goodness the "blanketless bed" inventor did not encounter the same kind of serendipity!

It seems safe

to presume there was no Mrs. Milton Fairchild.

I am Iron-Lung!

It looks about as comfortable as an iron lung (which won't be invented until 1929).


I saw the picture just now and thought "Wanna sleep in a coffin?"

Vintagetvs beat me to it!

Well Done!

... would be the result if the thermostat went on the blink!

Not sure of what to say.

This is so bizarre. I await with bated breath further enlightened commentary

I'll Pass

Would not work for us old guys with enlarged prostates. Can you imagine climbing out of that contraption three times a night?

[Note the counterweight for easy egress. - Dave]

Double duty

If you die in your sleep (probably from electrocution) they can just put a lid on it and bury you in it.


Words fail me.

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