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The History of White Noise Machines

The world’s first white noise machine was invented by James K. Buckwalter. He was inspired by his wife, Trudy, who had difficulty sleeping but found that the sound of an air conditioner helped. Buckwalter created a device that sounded like an air conditioner but did not produce cold, blowing air. In 1963, he and his investor, William F. Lahey, filed a patent for the first-ever electromechanical sound conditioner, the SleepMate. The product grew popular through word of mouth, leading Buckwalter to create his own company called Marpac. His machine’s design has remained mostly the same over the years, but its name was changed to “the Dohm” in 2010. Over the years, many imitators and competing designs have come onto the market. CDs of music mixed with white noise designed to help the restless and stressed out were widely available in the early 2000s, and today, there are many white noise apps available on smartphones. Still, many people swear by mechanical white noise machines. These devices are also often used for privacy in offices. White noise is even incorporated into sirens because it can cut through other sounds very well! White noise went from a largely unknown concept to something we purposefully incorporate into our routines thanks to Buckwalter’s 1960s invention.

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