In the 1960s, NASA contracted an aeronautical engineer and a scientist to create an open-cell material to absorb the G-force for astronauts traveling into space. The open-cell material developed had unusually high energy absorption while still remaining soft and pliable. In aerospace and aviation applications, this new material could absorb sudden impacts without shock or bounce, then return to its original shape even after 90% compression. It provided great comfort for aircraft seats and served as a buffer against pressure, increasing the likelihood of survival during a crash.
They first referred to this open-cell material as slow springback foam because it would shape to whatever was pressing against it and then slowly spring back to its original shape once the pressure was removed. The name later changed to temper foam. In the early 1980s, NASA marked the formula for temper foam as public domain, and a number of companies started working with it to further develop its commercial use.
Many gave up but after close to 10 years perfecting the temper material for consumer use, specifically for sleepers, the TEMPUR-Pedic Swedish Mattress was introduced to the world in 1991. Within three years, 50,000 TEMPUR-Pedic mattresses were sold in Sweden, a country with a relatively small population. Shortly after the introduction of this Swedish mattress, TEMPUR-Pedic Inc. was created in North America. By the end of 1995, TEMPUR-Pedic Inc. was a $14 million company.