The Murphy bed mechanism is a patented, special use device that allows the bed to be effortlessly lifted up into its recess or easily pulled down into a sleeping position. The basic concept of the mechanism is over one hundred years old. It was invented and patented by William L. Murphy in the early 1900s.
Mr. Murphy’s design was constructed of steel bolted to the door jamb of a closet. The lifting mechanism consisted of two steel springs that were strong enough to do most of the work of lifting and tight enough to keep the bed in a vertical position when out of use. The unit was counter-balanced to also keep it in the horizontal, open position when needed. Early improvements allowed the mattress to pivot so it would glide from one position to another. Many of these beds are still in use, especially in the older apartments of San Francisco and New York City.
During World War II, steel was in short supply. Consequently, fewer beds were constructed, even though replacement parts continued to be made. After the war, people moved from their small apartments in the cities to roomier houses in the suburbs. Interest in the Murphy bed waned until the movement back to city living in the 1980s.
Meanwhile, the mechanism itself was gradually improved as new patents were granted. The basic Murphy bed mechanism, two springs that needed periodic adjustments, was modified until the unit can now function well without any adjustments for years, and can be guaranteed for ten years or more. Many units are no longer attached to the floor or to the back of a closet, but are part of custom cabinetry. The unit now locks in place in both the vertical and horizontal position. There are even mechanisms that are gas-piston driven or electric, especially useful for the handicapped and elderly.
The Murphy bed mechanism can be purchased and installed separately in preexisting or custom cabinetry, or will be delivered fully assembled with a purchased Murphy bed.