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The Scale May Be the Home’s Most Used Gadget

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Bill Primavera
Bill Primavera

By Bill Primavera – Considering that one in three women and one out of five men in this country are on a diet, might the bathroom scale be the most utilized gadget in the home?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know that for many years, I’ve had an almost unnatural relationship with my scale

Every morning I surrender myself to it just before jumping into the shower. If this simple act stopped there, it might be considered perfectly normal behavior, but a secret ritual has developed over the years. I tap the glass surface of the attractively designed gadget, step on it lightly and wait with baited breath as digital figures start their little dance until the final number pops up in an excessively large digital display, the only reading I am able to achieve without my glasses.

More often than not, I don’t accept the preliminary hard evidence of my imprudence. Surely the scale needs to “warm up” before it gives me an accurate weight. I step off and on the scale again, but this time I lower my weight slowly as I lean on a shelf nearby. The result of this little trick may actually be higher than the first reading.

Convinced that the floor tiles where the scale rests must be uneven, I step off again and nudge it along the floor a few inches to another spot and try again. If I get a more favorable weight, I will stop there. If not, there may be a couple of more nudges along the floor, before I am forced to call out to my wife, “Honey, do you think the scale is off this morning? Maybe it’s the change in the weather?”

I will resist elaborating on the fact that for a while I had two scales in the bathroom, each a different brand; I’d weigh myself on both, then accept the average weight between them.

With our distant ancestors, not fettered by body image issues spawned by the media, it was the need for measurement in commerce that created the first scale. Evidence of the earliest scales in Roman times shows that they were actually balancing systems, using two plates attached to an overhead beam fixed on a central pole, much like the smaller version held by Lady Justice. The weight of any object for trade, like gold, was measured by placing it on one plate and weight-setting stones on the other, until equilibrium was reached.

In the late 1700s, British balance maker Richard Salter invented the spring scale, which measures the pressure exerted on a spring to deduce the weight of an object. Spring scales are still fairly common today, but are not as accurate as the new and sleek scales that came with the digital age.

The first automatic vending machine was a large spring scale that was imported from Germany in the late 1880s. People would go to a local store or arcade where they availed themselves of a coin-operated weighing scale, requiring a penny to see one’s weight.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Peerless Scale operated a scale on almost every corner and weighing in was considered an affordable novelty, even during the Depression. To feed interest in this pastime, fortunes were added to the ticket that was dispensed, then the names and pictures of movie stars who paid to have themselves promoted through this service.

By the 1940s, improvements in mechanical scale technology made smaller, inexpensive spring scales available for the home, and they stayed pretty much the same until recently when they advanced to digital models operated by batteries.

Today, bathroom scales come in many models and range from the inexpensive and simple to the more elaborate, supported by technology, where we can also learn our Body Mass Index.

Through the years, I’ve met a few people who have told me they never get on a scale and don’t own one. Their only weight monitoring system might be to cut back on dessert when they feel their pants getting a little snug. This system is so foreign, so unfathomable to me that I can only marvel at it.

Judging from the number of bathrooms I’ve visited as a realtor, I would say that these lucky people are in the minority and that the bathroom scale is one home gadget that is here to stay.

Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. ( His real estate site is, and his blog is To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.



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