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26-39 50th ANNIVERSARY:SPN Master pages 15/09/2009 10:22 Page 36
spnfeature Celebrating 50 years of Swimming Pool News
50 years of hot tubs
In the late 1950s, Joe Jacuzzi and his brothers had
no way of knowing their invention of a portable
whirlpool pump would spawn an industry. They
Key dates in the history simply sought to use hydrotherapy to ease the
of the hot tub pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Thanks to five
1956 – National Spa & Pool Institute decades of tinkering and testing, hot tub
founded as an international trade
association of more than 5,000 consumers now have the luxury of choosing a
manufacturers, distributors, retailers,
service companies and builders covering variety of high-tech luxury options, features and
the spa and hot tub industry. NSPI
members shared a commitment to public innovations which were unimaginable 50 years ago
health and safety in the installation,
maintenance and operation of hot tubs. side from the original concept of and... whatever. With little money, and lots
of free time on their hands, they set the
1956 – Jacuzzi uses the hydraulic stage for the proliferation of wooden hot
knowledge they had gleaned from working A
incorporating hot water and
bubbles, no part of the hot tub
technology has gone unaltered in tubs. Many if not most of these were
within the agricultural industry to create the the past 50 years. homemade. Innovative individuals even
first portable hydrotherapy pump. Inventors and entrepreneurs have installed smoke-belching wood fired heaters,
changed the jets, surface, insulation, although water circulation, filtration, and
1965 – Hippies with little money but equipment, accessory items, profiles – and sanitation were hit and miss at best.
plenty of free time descended along the even the product name. Those quaint but cramped wooden tubs
Californian Coast and start a very different It was in the late 50s that the California leaked and didn’t work very well. We now
hot tub culture to that of Jacuzzi. Tubs based Jacuzzi family, having emigrated know that redwood not only contains its
were crude and homemade and fitted from Italy around the turn of the 20th own natural toxins, the porous wood fibres
with smoke belching wood fired heaters. century, used the hydraulic knowledge they can harbour a breeding ground for all
had gleaned from working within the types of bacteria, mold, algae and slime.
1968 – The first fully integrated self agricultural industry to create the first The Romans and the Jacuzzi brothers
contained Jacuzzi, dubbed the Roman portable hydrotherapy pump. The J-300. were entering into excellent company
Bathtub, was introduced. The pumps were initially targeted at alongside Hippocrates who advocated hot
housewives to ease the aches and pains tub bathing for its healing properties and to
1970 – As larger units were designed to brought on by “modern living” or to put a sustain the body’s healthy balance way back
accommodate more people, Jacuzzi finer point on it, the drudgery of household in 4000BC. Hot water’s healing power has
incorporate heating and filtration tasks. The original Jacuzzi pump, when also been revered for thousands of years in
systems to keep the water warm and coupled with jets using an air-injection Asian culture. The Japanese have a saying;
clean, thus creating the first hot tub in system, created a bubbly water-and-air Mizu-no-Kokoro which translates to; Mind
1970. The hot tub, unlike the whirlpool mixture. As time progressed, a variety of like water, referring to the peaceful state of
bath, could be used outside with this manufacturers experimented with methods being in harmony with all things. Hot water
heating system. to propel the air/water stream into the spa. bathing in freestanding wooden hot tubs
Hollywood stars were quick to see the called ofuro has been a Japanese family
1972 – Baja Products, a manufacturer of benefits of the system. Jayne Mansfield custom for centuries. The Japanese ofuro is
acrylic-fibreglass diving board stands, and Randolph Scott swiftly became firm placed in an open space outdoors where
introduced a vacuum-formed acrylic spa fans. Comedian Jack Benny became users “commune” with nature.
shell, which was reinforced with fibreglass Jacuzzi’s official spokesperson and in 1968 But the wooden hot tub wasn’t a very
and thought to be the first of its kind. the company’s first fully integrated self pleasant long term option.
contained Jacuzzi, dubbed the Roman Spa owners grumbled about the
1978 – Basically, the hot tub is still a Bathtub was introduced. stubborn black stains appearing in their
round wooden tub about four feet deep Initially seen as a plaything for the rich quickly dilapidating tubs, which faded in
and anywhere from four to eight feet in and famous, the medical profession soon the sun, absorbed water and generally fell
diameter, that comfortably seats up to tuned in to the many health benefits apart. Despite a flurry of explanations, no
five people. The most recent contribution associated with hydrotherapy and the tubs one had a definitive answer – or solution,
to the world is the portable hot tub. were implemented in hospitals and clinics the search for a new material was on.
though still only across the USA. When the shortcomings of wooden hot
1980 – It is said people with a history of The 1950s saw hot tubs first appearing in tubs became apparent, the first fibreglass
heart disease, diabetes or blood pressure homes not owned by the wealthy or iconic. shell hot tubs began to appear on the
problems should check with a doctor This took place mainly in the USA and market in 1969-70. The gel-coat fibreglass
before taking up the hot tub habit, and essentially California. Most of these tubs construction had its own drawbacks, and
“persons taking medications which were makeshift vessels crafted from old was replaced by cast acrylic in the early
induce drowsiness, such as tranquilizers, redwood water containers or discarded wine 70s. For the first time it was easy for the
antihistamines or anti-coagulants.” barrels. By 1965 hippies began flooding the owner to achieve water cleanliness in an
coast of California, looking for peace, love easy-to-maintain package.
36 Swimming Pool News October 09 >>> Digital edition available at
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