In the streamliner days a "roomette", whether standard or duplex, was an accommodation for a single traveler with a full twin-size bed and a private toilet and washbasin (the toiled dumped straight down on the tracks). Duplex roomettes squeezed a few more passengers into the space by staggering the roomettes upper-and-lower; in the example I am most familiar with (we have one at the Galveston RR museum collection) the berth for the upper roomettes folds down from behind the seat while the lower roomettes' berths are in large drawers which pull out from the front of the room.
When the Superliners first entered service in 1979 the present "roomette" accommodations were called, and sold as, "economy bedrooms". Later (early '90s, I think), the "economy" was dropped in an attempt to give these rooms more cachet and the present Bedrooms were sold as, "Deluxe Bedrooms". However, this quickly backfired. "Bedroom" was traditionally a term for a private room with a sofa by day and upper/lower berths by night, much like the present Bedrooms (although Superliner bedrooms would probably have been sold as "Compartments" in the streamliner days...one step up from the traditional Bedroom). Passengers who thought they were purchasing a Bedroom were shocked by the former economies, and those who paid extra for a "Deluxe" bedroom, possibly anticipating a real double bed and room to move around, were likewise disappointed.
Amtrak eventually adopted the old single room term of "roomette" for the former economy rooms and returned to the traditional usage of "Bedroom" for rooms A-E on the upper level. New travelers can still be shocked by how small the rooms really are, but the truth-in-advertising complaints seem to be muted.
Edited by ehbowen, 12 June 2017 - 05:35 PM.