The history of inflatables is long and profound. There’s something about an inflatable that makes us chuckle in delight. It could be the fact that we associate it with toys, or perhaps it’s their unique material, but regardless of the reason, they undeniably create a sense of childlike wonderment in us. Today, inflatables include anything ranging from water slides to bouncy castles to pool floats…the list goes on and on. However, did you know that not only are these super rigid objects infused with airy goodness but that they’ve recently become a great way to bring in the new year?
The history of inflatables is as old as history. Let’s see what kinds of inflatables are there in the present time; how people used them for ages and what will the future bring about for them.
Kinds of Inflatables
There are two kinds of inflatables: those you can use for advertising and those you can use for amusement. The first type is basically a large, air-filled sign. This kind of inflatable is a great way to attract attention to your business and to make your fans feel special on game day.
The second type is meant for fun, as they’re large toys that people can play on. They’re often used at carnivals and fairs as well as in front of sporting events to attract attention to the teams or players.
The first inflatable boat was made in 1885 by John Thurston in New York. In 1889, Goodyear created a boat that could be inflated with air and had an electric motor attached to it. This was created for James Gordon Bennett’s yacht America II.
Inflatable aircraft was designed by American inventor Alfred J. Gross in 1916 when he developed a system for inflating rigid airships with helium gas after World War I. He also developed a smaller version to be used as a life raft which could be stored in a small box.
The Origins of the Inflatable
In 1824, Michael Faraday, an English scientist, used rubber-coated silk to make a large balloon. This was then used to transport people into the air. In 1844, Charles Goodyear made the first inflatable rubber tires for use on cars and bicycles. These were an important development for inflatables as rubber is easy to work with.
History of the Bounce House
Bounce houses are an integral part of any kid’s birthday party, summer barbecue, or family reunion. But how did this outdoor attraction come to be?
It all started with a man named John Scurlock, who lived in Shreveport, Louisiana, and owned United States Inflatables. He noticed that the safety air cushions used by the dummies during crash tests at automobile companies could also be used as large recreational toys. Scurlock created a huge “inflatable castle” for children to play on and called it the Moonwalk.
In 1990, Michael Ferraro received a patent for an inflatable toy structure that would become known as the bounce house. This product was different from Scurlock’s Moonwalk because it had a floor made of inflatable tubes and a netted roof so parents could see their children while they played inside.
In 1995, businessman Anthony Cannata acquired license rights to sell Ferraro’s bounce house design. He founded Bounce land in Chicago and began producing bouncy houses that were shipped all over the world.
Today, bounce houses are often referred to generically as “moonwalks” even though that is only one brand name for them. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including castles, slides, and obstacle
History of the Inflatable Pool
The modern concept of an inflatable pool got its start in the 1960s. Before then, people used inflatable mattresses and air mattresses as toys in the water. However, they weren’t ideal because they were usually too small to comfortably fit more than one person and didn’t hold water very well.
Those issues were addressed by John Brittenham and Harry Gibbons, who created a patent for a “portable swimming pool” in 1962. This invention was essentially an inflatable liner made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) with a vinyl coat and reinforced seams; it was designed to be placed into a hole dug into the ground (or filled with a hose) and kept inflated with an air pump.
The surfaces are normally made of thick, sturdy PVC, vinyl, or nylon, and the castle is inflated with an electric or gasoline-powered blower. Small punctures are not an issue because the principle is one of constant leakage. A medium-sized bouncy castle requires a fan with a mechanical output of roughly two horsepower (consuming around 2 kW electrical power, allowing for the efficiency of the motor).
Bouncy castles in the United Kingdom and Australia must have completely inflated walls on three sides, an open front, and foam crash mats to catch youngsters who leap or fall out of the construction.
In the United States, modern moonwalks are often supported by inflatable columns and encased in netting. Adults can see through the netting, which allows for supervision.
In 2005, Australia adopted the most stringent regulations in the construction of inflatable entertainment, producing Federal Standard AS3533.4. This was a groundbreaking safety standard, providing the most stringent design/construction/operation standards to Australia’s inflatable industry. The European Union (EU) followed suit in 2006, introducing EN14960:2006 standards throughout the EU, which were then amended in 2013 to EN14960:2013.
In the United States, Pennsylvania and New Jersey require inflatables to meet engineering and safety standards before they may be hired. The North Carolina Department of Labor requires amusement rides, including inflatables, to be inspected annually (NCDOL). In order for inflatables to pass inspection in North Carolina, operators must have complete training documents, a valid certificate of insurance, and device manuals. Inflatables that are damaged and not safe will not pass inspection until they are repaired.
In the past several years, there have been many new advances in pool construction and technology. The inflatable pool has changed a lot over the years since it was first created and the current state of them is only the beginning of its development. Inflatable pools are becoming increasingly popular among consumers and are likely to remain so as they continue to evolve in both design and capability.