The History Of Hearing Aids

Dr. Sowards takes a journey back in time to discuss the History of Hearing Aids. They really have come a long way.


Hearing devices really begin with ear trumpets, or anything they can use to hear better in the 1700 and 1800s. There were no electrical devices, so people did what they really could. In the late 1800s, commercially sold ear trumpets became available. Funnel-shaped in design, ear trumpets were man's first attempt at inventing a device for treating hearing loss. They didn’t amplify sound, however, but worked by collecting sound and “funneling” it through a narrow tube into the ear.

The Problem

Cartoon-like and bulky, these ear trumpets and the subsequent speaking tubes didn’t work all that well. One of the issues with the portable ear trumpet was that it wasn’t discreet. It was obvious when someone was using the device. In early 1900s, the first electric hearing devices were made.

Moving Forward

It wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s where eyeglasses and hearing aids were combined. The first electric hearing aid, called the Akouphone, was created by Miller Reese Hutchison in 1898. In the 1950s, the transistor was invented and transformed hearing aid technology completely. A transistor is simply a switch with two settings: on or off.  By the mid-1990s, digital hearing aid technology allowed sound to be amplified, reduced, filtered, and directed as needed. Hearing aid programs could be customized to a user's lifestyle, soft amplification for quiet home settings, targeted amplification of voices in restaurants, etc.

Learn more by watching the video below!