Part 1 of The Evolution of the Hearing Aid.

Part 1 of The Evolution of the Hearing Aid.

As long as people have been communicating verbally, people have been having trouble hearing that communication.

The first “generation” of hearing aids surfaced in the 17th century, and all of the aids were designed to be held over the ears. The first “brand name” hearing aid was the Metal Ear in the 17th century.

In the 19th century, “ear trumpets” and cones were used as hearing aids, acting to funnel sound waves down into the ear canal. The first major manufacturer of hearing aids was Frederick Rein of London in 1800, and he produced ear trumpets and conversation tubes that fit over the ear. Finally in the late 1800s, the acoustic horn was created which was a cone that captured the sound, that was wide at the opening to collect sound waves and narrow at the base so it fit into the ear canal.

Eventually, the hearing impaired patients pushed for more discrete hearing aids. In the late 19th century, hearing aids were hidden in clothing and on accessories (e.g. on glasses). However, the invisibility of the hearing aid was at the expense of the individual’s hearing; the focus was more on hiding the disability rather than remediating the hearing loss.


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