Memory foam, the latest in sleep technology was actually developed in 1966 by Charles Yost under contract for NASA. He had been contracted to develop a cushioning to use for takeoff to relieve the stress caused by the high G-force the astronauts were subjected to. The original product was called T-foam or temper foam. It was never used for its intended purpose as it was not durable enough in its original form.
NASA then sold the formula to medical companies who tried to commercialise it; however, they too struck problems because it was to brittle to be used long term. It was only when a Swedish manufacturing company called Tempurpedic was able to craft a more durable version that still had the same desirable qualities that it was ready to become a commercial product.
It seems incredible that memory foam owes its origins to the Cold War and the space race between the two superpowers, but it is just one of many technologies that the supreme battle between the US and the USSR spawned. So when you go to sleep on your memory foam mattress tonight, think back over history, from Karl Marx and Stalin, from George Washington to John F. Kennedy. They were responsible, as was Charles Yost, for your comfortable night’s sleep.