Tanning beds have spawned the whole industry of indoor tanning and chains of tanning salons. People can even have tanning beds in their homes. Prior to the 1970s, however, tanning without the sun was very rare.

An Accident

In 1906 a German medical company called Heraeus discovered that its newest lamps emitted UV light and were used to help people who needed to increase their Vitamin D intake.

The Inventor

German scientist Friedrich Wolff used UV light to give people healthy tans in the early 1970s. He brought the tanning bed to the U.S. in 1978.

How It Works

Wolff's discovery of the tanning effects of UV light caused him to create specialized lamps to focus the light and a reflector system so that those using his tanning beds would get an even tan all over.

The Wolff System

The Wolff system tanning beds are still used in tanning salons and homes worldwide. The company is located in Atlanta, Georgia.

Friedrich Wolff

Friedrich later sold the his Wolff Systems company to his brother, Jorge.