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A Brief History of Hearing Treatments- Part II

Thursday, August 10, 2017 4:16:10 PM Australia/Melbourne

A Brief History of Hearing Treatments- Part IIWe kicked off our last post, talking about the history of hearing aids and audiology tools. A brief reminder—our starting point was something called the ear trumpet, which at one point was even made from animal horns! There’s a fun costume idea for your next party. But thanks to pioneers like Thomas Edison, we entered the 1900s, a little bit more educated about how to amplify decibels of the noises in the world around us. Hearlink is so passionate about the history of audiology and sharing it with our valued customers. Let’s dive into what came next…

 

Alright, so we left things with vacuum tube technology. We’re now amplifying sounds to 70 decibels. These are big breakthroughs. Emphasis on the big. That’s right—there was a drawback to vacuum tube technology. These things were huge! The devices in this day and age were about the size of a filing cabinet, so not a very easy mechanism to carry around with you as you go about your day.

 

Let’s fast-forward to 1938. There was a company called Aurex which broke ground when they invented the first hearing aids that you could actually wear. These should start to sound a little bit more familiar—an earpiece, a wire and a receiver. Only holdup? A battery pack that you would need to strap into your leg.

 

During World War II, technologies began to shrink and become more compact. Finally, factories were building and distributing button-sized batteries and hearing aids that came with circuit boards. Soldiers didn’t have time to deal with the large battery packs strapped to their legs, so these new models made a world of difference in a time of need.

 

At this point, things probably sound pretty dandy- right? Enter Bell Telephone Laboratories. You may have heard of them, just a little bit. They were the guys that created the transistor. For those unfamiliar, transistors control electrons- so they basically control electricity. With the flip of a switch, a transistor can start currents, stop currents, control the volume of currents, and in fact- do all of these at the same time. This was a huge game changer for audiology and doctors in the industry went wild. Here’s a fun fact: More than 200,000 transistor hearing aids were sold in the year of 1953 alone. Finally, vacuum tube hearing aids would be put to rest.

 

The next shift, and the one that will sound most familiar to today’s audience was from analog to digital. Within a 50-year span, digital hearing aids became 80% of the audiology market. Manufacturers determined a way to build them from silicon, so they became even smaller. Zenith Radio was a big company that pioneered these and we thank them for that.

 

So what’s on the horizon? Only time will tell. Each year brings new technologies, which we’ll explore in future posts. We can only turn to the past and thank each of the revolutionary pioneers which have helped bring hearing to so many.

Posted in Industry News By

Hearlink Admin