Humanities › History & Culture History of the Electric Blanket History of the Electric Blanket Share Flipboard Email Print Chris Hunter / Getty Images History & Culture Inventions Famous Inventions Famous Inventors Patents & Trademarks Invention Timelines Computers & The Internet American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Mary Bellis Inventions Expert Mary Bellis covered inventions and inventors for ThoughtCo for 18 years. She is known for her independent films and documentaries, including one about Alexander Graham Bell. our editorial process Mary Bellis Updated November 14, 2018 The first crude electric blanket was invented in the early 1900s. The heated bed coverings bore little resemblance to the electric blankets we are familiar with today. They were big and bulky heating devices that were dangerous to use, and the blankets were really considered an oddity. An inventor called S.I. Russell patented an electric blanket and some consider him the inventor of the modern electric blanket. Use in Sanitariums In 1921, electric blankets started receiving more attention after being regularly used in tuberculosis sanitariums. Tuberculosis patients were routinely prescribed lots of fresh air, which included sleeping outdoors. The blankets were used to keep the patients warm. When any product comes to public attention, attempts to improve design begins and the electric blanket was no exception. Thermostat Control In 1936, the first automatic, electric blanket was invented. It had a separate thermostat control which automatically turned on and off, in response to room temperature. The thermostat also served as a safety device, turning off if hot spots in the blanket occurred. Later, thermostats were wired into the blankets and multiple thermostats were used. This basic design remained until 1984 when thermostats-free electric blankets were introduced. Warming Pads & Heated Quilts That in 1946 the first automatic electric blanket went on sale in the US for $39.50, but the term "electric blanket" was not used until the 1950s—prior to that, these blankets used to be called "warming pads" or "heated quilts" Today's electric blankets can respond to both room and body temperatures. The blankets can even send more heat to your cold feet and less to your torso.