A Brief History of Hearing Aids

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You can easily compare the devices of two centuries ago with today’s models, which are much lighter than their previous counterparts. Today, they only weigh a few ounces. Yesterday, they weighed several pounds and weren’t easy to carry around. It’s this unparalleled versatility that lends itself to better comfort for anyone with a hearing impairment. With millions of people benefiting from hearing aids in the United States, we can thank 200 years of research and history for that. About 35 million people have hearing loss in this country, and more people should wear hearing devices to help themselves. The growth of technology has manifested itself in a variety of shapes, sizes, capabilities and colors of devices designed for young and old.

In the Beginnings

The 19th century brought with it electrical technologies emerged spurred on by the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. Thomas Edison was inspired by this invention and came up with the carbon transmitter for the telephone in 1878. This was designed to boost the basics of the telephone as well as the electrical signal to improve hearing. The 17th and 18th centuries produced devices that offered only limited amplification qualities. The phone invention acted as a starting point for advancement leading to electrical transmission of speech.

Contrast with Today

Through recent decades, inventions brought to light digital signal-processing chips, hybrid analog-digital models and fully digital models by the end of the 1990s. The new millennium witnessed the emergence of programmable hearing aids for better flexibility, customization and comfort. Today’s hearing aids can seamlessly connect to Bluetooth technology as well as filter out annoying background noise. This is impressive considering 90 percent of today’s hearing impaired people wear digital devices. It’s necessary to go back a bit to the more primitive modern iterations that started in 1964 when Zenith Radio made the first behind-the-ear models.

On the Ear

The 1930’s brought us hearing aids that could finally be worn on the ear with relative comfort got popular. These devices were made by a Chicago electronics manufacturer, featuring a thin wire connected to an earpiece and receiver. However, there was also a battery pack which attached to the user’s leg which posed obvious imitations. Smaller models came out during World War II for more reliable service to the user thanks to the invention of printed circuit boards.

Cumbersome Vacuums

The result with this invention was far better amplification as well as better frequency, but the comfort level was very low because the items were quite large and impractical. Still, they got smaller as the years passed and indeed served a purpose. These kinds of vacuums are not what you are thinking of. They were actually tubes made by Western Electric Co. in 1920 in NYC, utilized technology taken from Lee De Forest’s discovery of the three-component tube.

All of these revolutionary discoveries have paved the way for further growth in technology.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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