#ThrowbackThursday: Hitachi Magic Wand, 1968

Magic Wand packaging, pre- and post-rebranding (Engadget)

Magic Wand packaging, pre- and post-rebranding (Engadget)

This post was originally published on February 5, 2015.

On April 25, 1968, Japanese company Hitachi listed its Magic Wand for business in the U.S with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Originally advertised as a massager in the 1970s, it quickly gained a new (and arguably larger) reputation as a powerful vibrator.

Sex educator Betty Dodson was the first person to recommend it, using the device in her classes on female masturbation. For women uneasy about going to a sex shop to purchase a toy, the Magic Wand filled a previously-unknown niche: Dodson got hers in the small appliance section at Macy’s.

It looks almost orthopedic, with a “tennis-ball-size” head sitting at the end of the white plastic shaft. (And it’s almost as long as the model’s forearm on the old packaging.) The Magic Wand has two speeds: low (5K vibrations per minute) and high (6K vibrations per minute). It weighs 1+ pound, and measures 12 inches. But nationally-known sex shop Good Vibrations reports that the Magic Wand has been one of their best-sellers since 1977.

In 2013, Hitachi rebranded the massager, as they were uneasy as being unofficially branded a covert sex toy. (I guess it took them 46 years to catch on?) Hitachi’s name doesn’t feature on the new packaging, but it doesn’t obscure what everyone knows: The Cadillac of vibrators is inside.

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Woman-Friendly Sex Shops: By The Numbers

Babeland, New York's Lower East Side location (Yelp)

Babeland, New York’s Lower East Side location (Yelp)

Dell Williams, who died last week at age 92, is credited with founding the first woman-friendly sex shop in the nation. Her store Eve’s Garden, founded in 1974, was born out of a need for a safe space for women to embrace and grow their sexuality and respective needs and desires (as well as selling high-end toys and products).

Williams was very much ahead of her time in that respect. Over forty years later, we now have many woman-friendly sex stores. They tend to be founded in same spirit of celebration and discovery of sexuality that Eve’s Garden was. Education and empowerment go hand-in-hand.

Here’s a timeline of how woman-friendly sex shops have evolved:

1970s: After gaining popularity in the gay community, The Pleasure Chest becomes more couple- (and woman-) friendly.

1974: Dell Williams opened Eve’s Garden, the nation’s first woman-friendly sex shop.

1977: Joani Blank opened the first Good Vibrations store in San Francisco.

1993: Noticing a niche needing to be filled, Claire Cavanah and Rachel Venning founded Toys in Babeland in Seattle.

1998: Toys in Babeland opened a store in New York.

2003: The Smitten Kitten opened in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

2005: Toys in Babeland changes its name to simply Babeland, to better reflect a sexually satisfying lifestyle.

2006: Good Vibrations opened a store in Brookline, Massachusetts. It was the fourth store total, and the first to open outside of California.

2009: Evy Cowan and Jeneen Doumitt opened She Bop in Portland, Oregon.

 

This is just a handful of woman-friendly sex shops.

It’s interesting to note that not only are these stores woman-friendly, but they were also founded by women. Clearly, it takes one to know one, in the case of knowing what women want in their sex toy shopping experience. There also appears to be a link between owning your sexuality and entrepreneurship. Very interesting!

 

#ThrowbackThursday: Hitachi Magic Wand, 1968

Magic Wand packaging, pre- and post-rebranding (Engadget)

Magic Wand packaging, pre- and post-rebranding (Engadget)

On April 25, 1968, Japanese company Hitachi listed its Magic Wand for business in the U.S with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Originally advertised as a massager in the 1970s, it quickly gained a new (and arguably larger) reputation as a powerful vibrator.

Sex educator Betty Dodson was the first person to recommend it, using the device in her classes on female masturbation. For women uneasy about going to a sex shop to purchase a toy, the Magic Wand filled a previously-unknown niche: Dodson got hers in the small appliance section at Macy’s.

It looks almost orthopedic, with a “tennis-ball-size” head sitting at the end of the white plastic shaft. (And it’s almost as long as the model’s forearm on the old packaging.) The Magic Wand has two speeds: low (5K vibrations per minute) and high (6K vibrations per minute). It weighs 1+ pound, and measures 12 inches. But nationally-known sex shop Good Vibrations reports that the Magic Wand has been one of their best-sellers since 1977.

In 2013, Hitachi rebranded the massager, as they were uneasy as being unofficially branded a covert sex toy. (I guess it took them 46 years to catch on?) Hitachi’s name doesn’t feature on the new packaging, but it doesn’t obscure what everyone knows: The Cadillac of vibrators is inside.