A short history of the Hearing Aid

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Jim Fulham

Jim Fulham

Senior Hearing Aid Audiologist at Hidden Hearing
Mr Jim Fulham, Senior Hearing Aid Audiologist with Hidden Hearing, has been an audiologist for the past 30 years and is highly recognised as a conscientious and caring professional. Jim has been with Hidden Hearing since 2000 and took control of the Cavan Branch in 2013. This Branch is now recognised as a Centre of Excellence for Hearing Care in Ireland.

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Hearing aid history is interesting and goes back to the 1700s. Over the years, hearing aids have remained consistent with one basic function – to increase the volume of sound. Here’s a fun, yet informative look at the history of hearing aids.

In the 1700s, a simple ear trumpet was used to help those with impaired hearing. There were different versions of this trumpet that ranged from bull’s horns to seashells. It’s suspected that the human race has used both of these basic “assistive devices”for thousands of years.

In the mid 1880s, the French were very ingenious and came along with the Clarvox Lorgnette Trumpet. This cumbersome gadget combined ‘spectacles’ (glasses) with a light tortoiseshell ear trumpet. This was rather an awkward device so it was made with dark material in hopes of being somewhat concealed when the user wore dark clothing. The British came up with something a bit spiffier around the same time, the London Dome. It came in a variety of sizes and was often decorated as the makers tended to cater to opera fans. While at the opera, this dome greatly improved the quality of the performance for those with hearing challenges.

In 1887 the ear tube came along and this allowed the user to obtain sound directly from the source – the speaker talked into it at one end, and the user listened.

The 1900s saw many hearing aid advancements. In 1914 the Stethoclare came along measuring 11 cm in diameter and it was placed on a table. It caught sound and an attached tube went to the listener’s ear.

The history of hearing aids continues with electric hearing aids which entered the market in 1901; although this technology was bulky and impractical. It wasn’t until 1930 that the electric hearing aid was designed smaller. This desktop device came with several components and the batteries never lasted more than a few hours. This was also something very few people could afford as it cost almost the same as a new car in today’s currency.

Carbon microphone aids became popular throughout the 1930s and 1940s and all varied in size. Technological advances eventually brought smaller models. The microphone was worn around the neck and it was connected to the earpiece by wires. From this point on technology greatly advanced.

In the late 1950s, transistorization changed everything. Much smaller over-the-ear hearing aids came along followed by in-the-canal hearing aids in the 1970s. Digital processing hearing aids made their debut in the 1990s and now at the top of the micro-technology scale there is the Lyric – a miniscule hearing device so small and unobtrusive that is often compared to being a contact lens for your ear.

It’s wonderful to review the history of hearing aids and to see the amazing advancements. Technology will continue to help those with hearing impairments. For more information about how hearing aids can help you, please visit Hidden Hearing.

A short history of the Hearing Aid
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A short history of the Hearing Aid
Hearing aid history is interesting and goes back to the 1700s.
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Hidden Hearing
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