The Bliss Bringer
The most beautiful sound in the world is the quiet after a storm. If you don’t believe this, turn on a leaf blower or vacuum cleaner for a couple of minutes and then turn it off again. You’ll find that, much like ignorance, ignoise is bliss.
Philips recognized the marketing potential for this phenomenon. Like other companies, such as Braun and Siemens, they had been producing all kinds of noisy appliances for years, when in 1983 or so the proverbial light bulb popped up in their R & D Department: what if we made a Dedicated Noise Maker to bring our clients blissful silence whenever they want it, and not just after shaving or vacuuming?
And so the HR 4370 was born. It was marketed as an Air Cleaner, but somehow everybody knew better. This phenomenon was already known from vibrators, which were sold by mail order as ‘Facial Massage Devices’ back then. And much like the vibrator, the Silence Appreciation Machine or SAM (Philips’ secret official name for the HR 4370, used only in internal communications) was taboo. Not because it provided carnal pleasures, but because it celebrated silence, which is a clear sign of non-productiveness and laziness –qualities still frowned upon in many societies.
A couple of years later, someone figured that what goes for sound, might also work for vision, so Philips developed an improved, uglier model: the HR 4374. After looking at it for a minute, the whole world suddenly seemed beautiful. It has been suggested that the HR 4374 has saved many a marriage, but this has never been confirmed by data, so it may not be true.