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A Brief History of Hearing Treatments- Part I

Saturday, August 5, 2017 1:46:43 PM Australia/Melbourne

TA Brief History of Hearing Treatments- Part Ihese are some of Hearlink’s very favorite variety of posts on this blog. In order to truly understand our future potential, it’s vital that we as audiologists- understand our past. It’s mind boggling to look at our science, our processes, our technologies and our tools today and think that these haven’t always been the best practice. Did you know that the first hearing aid was shaped like a trumpet? Read on for a brief history of hearing aids and how they’ve developed into the models that we see today.

 

Things kicked off around the thirteenth century. Anyone impacted by hearing loss was using hollowed out horns of cows or rams to help with their hearing. This carried on well into the eighteenth century, when a more modern trumpet for the ears was created. This one still looked just like a funnel. Instead of amplifying sounds and conversations around you, it would collect the sounds and then funnel them down a very narrow tube, into your ear. As you can imagine, these contraptions were large, bulky, and clunky. They looked rather comical and weren’t very popular. But they were all they had, so everyone made the best of it.

 

The days that electricity and the telephone were invented in the nineteenth century, were red-letter days for everyone impacted by hearing loss. They could finally say goodbye to the hearing trumpets, and start leveraging the evolution of modern technology. Hearing aids benefited immensely from electricity. A telephone receiver specifically, became a very valuable tool for those that needed assistive hearing devices. Did you know that Thomas Edison suffered from hearing loss. Because of this, he became a pioneer for improvements in hearing devices. In 1870, it was Edison who first invented a carbon transmitter, which telephones used to amplify electrical signals. This raised the volume of sounds and conversations by almost 15 decibels, an uncommonly high number at the time! Today, we know that an amplification of about 30 decibels is really necessary if you suffer from hearing loss, but this finding by Edison certainly paved the way.

 

The beginning of the 1900s, specifically the 1920s- saw the kickoff of vacuum tube technology. Can you imagine hearing aids leveraging vacuum tubes? It was a huge success, ensuring that volume could be amplified by as much as 70 decibels. All of a sudden it wasn’t the exception to treat hearing loss, hearing aids became far more mainstream.

 

We’re only in the 1920’s – Can you believe how far technology has come? It really puts the science of not just hearing aids, but audiology in general—into perspective. Just wait and see what the next 100 years have in store, when we explore part 2 of this series, on the Hearlink blog.

 

Questions? Comments? Ideas? Give us a shout. The Hearlink team loves dialogue with any of our valued customers.

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Hearlink Admin