History of Bathroom Scales

Published: 12th August 2006
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The first coin operated scale was brought to the US from Germany in 1885. A few years later, in 1889, the National Scale Company manufactured the first coin operated scale in the United States. It was huge, weighing more than 200 pounds, but it was one of the first automatic vending machines. Drop in a penny, and you got to see your weight.



During the 1920s and 1930s the Peerless Scale Company coin operated a scale on almost every corner. In the 1920's and 30's, weighing youself was a novelty, and since people always had a penny, even in the middle of the depression, they could always afford to weigh themselves. Back then owning a scale was a great business. In a good location, a scale collecting one penny at a time could earn $50 to $100 a month. Even in a poor location, a scale could bring in $5 a month. Since a scale cost only $50, the profit margin was pretty good.



The popularity of penny scales reached its pinnacle in the mid-1930s, when there were over 750,000 scales all across the country. As the novelty of the scale diminished, new gimmicks were designed to revitalize interest. Some scales were designed to give a small ticket with a person's weight printed on it (so that people could hide their weight from viewers and husbands). Then, fortunes were added to the tickets and before long pictures of movie stars were used to encourage patrons to collect tickets and complete a set. The movie stars paid the scale companies to feature their pictures in order to promote their names.



In the 1940s, improvements in mechanical scale technology made small inexpensive personal bathroom scales readily available, and the popularity of the penny scales began to decline.



Today, personal bathroom scales are more likely to be digital. Load cell technology has made very accurate scales possible -- even ones small enough to fit in a suitcase for travel. In 2004 a patent was granted for a body weigh scale that mounts into a floor of a room, for example in the floor of a bathroom, and that is designed to have tiles or other floor covering materials on top of it. Weight information is transmitted to a remote countertop or wall mounted display which may normally show a clock or something else until the scale is stepped on.




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