Would you believe that once upon a time hearing aids were the size of trumpets and that they only lasted for a few hours. Yup, your read that right. There even came a point when they had to be worn around the neck for it to be “portable.” And just imagine how difficult it is to using hearing aids without electricity.
The evolution of hearing aids is really an interesting one. The way it has developed when it comes to its function, design, and most importantly, size is a great work of art and science. Take a peek at this awesome invention, and how it has come to what we see now as invisible and smartphone-ready hearing aids.
- This is the year of the believed earliest record of hearing loss in Ancient Egypt.
1700s. This was the era of ear trumpets. These inventions came in various shapes and sizes but they all had the same principle and function. Back then, electricity has not yet been discovered, so the only way it could be used was to attempt to capture, amplify, and direct sound into the ear canal. This was very useful for people who had mild hearing loss but was almost useless for conditions that are moderate and severe.
1800s. This was the time when people started to try concealing hearing aids. They were merged inconspicuously into clothing, collars, headwear, and even hairstyles. The want and struggle to hide them was so real that it was sometimes covered in flesh-colored coating, and hidden in beards. The royal family even had these placed in their thrones.
- Ear trumpets now had speaking tubes, thus making it able to help in amplification. It was portable although still bulky and had to be supported physically from below.
- It was Miller Reese Hutchison who created the first electronic hearing aid that used a portable carbon transmitter that took weak signals and turned it into a strong one. He called it an “akouphone.”
Frederick Alt created something very similar but was bulkier and heavier. It helped amplify sounds up to 15 decibels and was very useful for people who had moderate hearing loss.
1900s. The 19th century is the era of electric hearing aids. These versions of hearing aids were expensive and had limited portability. They were worn around the neck and had wires that were visible, plus a heavy battery that only lasted for a few hours. When it was needed to work for extended hours, battery packs that were heavier were worn on the body.
The invention of silicon made it possible for transmitters to become smaller.
- By 1920, Earl Hanson invented the first vacuum-tube hearing aid. This device turned speech into electrical signals using a telephone transmitter. Once converted, the signal is amplified. Although it was able to tend to severe cases, it needed two batteries which was pretty costly at that time.
- 1930. Vacuum technology was eventually merged with hearing aids. This immediately became outdated because hearing aids with transistors were invented in the 1950s.
1930s - 1940s. These devices got smaller but the downfall of it was that they were still very large and they did not last long. Also, only mild to moderate conditions were helped by it..
- These transistors required less battery, were small, and created less distortion and lesser heat than its predecessor.
1950s - 1980s. Hearing aids eventually got smaller and smaller as the years passed by—being able to be placed over the ear, inside the ear, inside the ear canal, even be placed completely hidden inside the ear canal.
Implants in the cochlea existed since the 1980s. The first successful implant happened in 1972.
The hearing aids have definitely gone a long way since becoming a very large, bulky, heavy, and noticeable trumpet, to a lightweight, stylish, compact, almost invisible digital hearing device. Who knows what lies for its future? We are all lucky to be living in an era where all these possibilities are handed in a silver platter. Don’t let this opportunity to gain back your hearing pass by. Check out our wide variety of hearing aids today!