Inventor Portrait: David Palmer

March 16, 2010

Part of a continuing series of inventor portraits.

Inventor: David Palmer
Invention: Massage Chair
Patent: No. 4,746,167

You’ve seen the offspring of David Palmer’s invention in shopping malls and convention centers around the world. In 1986, he debuted the first portable massage chair. It was heavy, and made of wood. It collapsed down to a “chair-in-a-box” for portability. The modern incarnation is much lighter, more comfortable, and even more portable.

Here’s David relaxing in an early version of the massage chair:

David Palmer

And in the modern version:

David Palmer

David explains why he’s in the massage field: “I’m focused on making touching a positive social value in our culture. It’s what I call the orphan sense. We’ve got five primary senses and of them the one that’s been ignored most — by academia in terms of research, by the media in general, by society in general — is definitely touch. Touch has the most negative associations attached to it and I’m out to change that because I think that touch is essential to our health and well-being, to our development as children, as infants, and it’s long overdue that we take the pathological aspects of touch and turn them into something positive. We’ve got a very pathological relationship as a culture to touch. And that’s mostly manifest in our relationship to sexuality in this culture. So I’m out to make touch something that is much more comfortable for people at large, and also something that people can utilize in their daily lives for their health and well-being. I think that massage is something that should be in every home, that family massage as it’s done in certain cultures, like the Japanese culture for example, is something that should be taught in every grade school as far as I’m concerned. That’s a basic life skill that people should have.”

1 Comment

David without a smile? It hardly looks like him but his message is as clear as the first time I heard it in 1993.

"To make touch a positive social value in our culture."

And he has worked tirelessly on that vision since I've known him. Thank you David!