Floating began in 1954 thanks to Dr. John C. Lilly and Jay T. Shurley at the National Institute of Mental Heath. They were trying to discover the origins of consciousness in the brain and to find out what would happen with the cessation of all external sensory input. No light, sound, touch, taste, or smell was permitted. Early experiments would have patients submerged vertically in a light and sound proof tank of water, hanging from a helmet with air tubes connected to it. It was an old military set up used by the Navy during WWII, this vertical set up proved to be less than ideal. Eventually they figured out that a horizontal tank design utilizing an enormous amount of salt heated to body temperature yielded better results. A very pleasant relaxing feeling was soon discovered as a side effect of the new sensory deprivation chamber set up. A new industry was about to be born.
About a decade and a half went by, and in 1972, Glenn Perry, while at a float conference with John C. Lilly, decided to refine the design and take it mainstream. He also came up with the super saturated solution of saltwater used today in float tanks when he added extra salt to the seawater being used at the time. Glenn and Lee Perry began producing Samadhi float tanks in 1973, and soon opened up the first commercial float center in Beverly Hills. It was hugely popular in the later 70's and into the 80's, until the AIDS scare that nearly killed the public spa and pool industry. In the mid 2000's floating began making a comeback. Fast forward to 2016 and floating is gaining steam at an alarming rate. Float centers are popping up left right and center all over the world including a few little rocks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.