Hearing aids have become one of the most important devices for people in the medical community. They allow people with hearing loss to take much more control of their lives and to experience autonomy that is not available to them otherwise. With more technology looking to be integrated into these hearing aids, the future for all hearing devices looks to be interesting. That is why it is time to take an appreciative look back at the past of hearing devices to see just how far we have come in just the last two centuries.
Vacuum Tube Hearing Aids
Before there were truly electrical hearing aids, there were hearing aids made from vacuum tubes. These hearing aids were made possible by using parts from phones and a variety of different radio pieces. The sounds would travel into the device and would be converted into electricity within the vacuum tube. From there, the sound would be amplified and then turned back into sound so that it could be interpreted by the listener. This was not only helpful because it could amplify sound, but the fact of the matter was that it made other companies and researchers interested in the possibilities of hearing aids.
Carbon Microphone Hearing Devices
Another form of hearing aid that was popular in the middle of the 20th century was the carbon microphone hearing device. This worked by having sound captured by the microphone, which would send carbon across a magnetic plate that would smash the carbon against a diaphragm. This would create much louder sound that the initial input, but it took a long time to actually register. There were several drawbacks of this type of hearing aid. It can only be used in one’s home if the user was sitting or lying down. Also, the device was so large and cumbersome because of the battery that it could not be taken into public.
Hearing Trumpet Devices
While these may not count as hearing aids in the sense that we use that word now, hearing trumpets were still a significant factor in making modern hearing devices. Before the 20th century, they were used as the primary means of increasing hearing in people with impairment. They were simple in design: a flared end of a piece of metal or wood along with an end that was only as large as the ear. This would let sound flow unobstructed from the source into the ear. Again, this was not a means of helping your hearing through amplification, but it showed people that there needed to be better options for your hearing loss.