Hearing Care Specialists - Hopkins, Glencoe, and Watertown, MN

Hearing aids, used by millions of individuals all over the planet, come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. As the decades have worn on, the devices have become smaller and more compact, offering an unprecedented comfort level for the user. Thanks to innovative technology, hearing aids have experienced exponential growth over the last two centuries, so it’s crucial to realize how far this technology has actually come. Let’s explore in-depth how hearing aids have evolved since the early designs.
The First Hearing Aids
A primitive form of hearing aid, the ear trumpet was developed for the widespread use of the hearing impaired community. Although hardly uniform in size, they did share a common attribute in that they were shaped like horns, designed to capture sound from close by. They worked by funneling this sound into the inner ear so the user could hear slightly better. However, these early devices weren’t the best at amplifying sound and only really served to give incremental acoustic improvement.
Then Came Carbon Hearing Aids
Then came the late 19th century and the first models of hearing aids as we know them were invented with inspiration from Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone. This is when the carbon hearing aid came into existence, utilizing a carbon microphone in tandem with a magnetic receiver and battery. Sound waves struck the outside of the microphone, sending the carbon pieces in the hearing aid pressing against the diaphragm to create sound. These pieces moving through the diaphragm acted much the way sound waves do but they still lacked the sophistication we know of hearing aids today. They suffered from low-quality sound and picked up very few frequencies because of the carbon. The only ones were really found it made a difference were those who only had a small amount of hearing loss.
Next up were Vacuum Tube Hearing Aids
Acting as the precursor to the first electronic hearing aids, vacuum tube hearing aids came about in the 1920s featuring a design that Bell Labs later improved on. Essentially being the first transistor for use in hearing aids, this device worked via a transmitter from a telephone that converted sounds and grouped them into electrical signals. The result? Amplified sound that moved through the receiver’s end, becoming one of the first portable hearing aids as part of the electronic hearing aid design. Even though it was pretty heavy – in fact, it weighed a whopping seven pounds, everyone – including investors and the hearing impaired community – was happy about the benefits driven by this new technology for improved hearing health.

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