The History of Hearing Aids

vintage depictions of several ear trumpets

At Associated Hearing Professionals, we work with some of the most cutting-edge audio amplification devices available today. We strive to always provide our patients with quality products that use state-of-the-art technology to deliver comfortable and effective hearing solutions. Our focus on the best technology available, however, has not dulled our respect for, and fascination with, the history of hearing aids.

The Earliest Hearing Aids

Evidence of historical hearing aids goes back to at least the 13th century. These primitive devices were usually made of the horns of animals. The hollowed-out horn would be used to funnel sound into the user’s ear. These earliest devices were generally handheld, and the users had to direct them at the sound they wanted to hear, ideally as close as possible to the source.

Scientific Advances in the Age of Enlightenment

Beginning in the late 1700s, science as a whole developed the system of testing and observing that we now refer to as the scientific method. Hearing specialists began experimenting with different materials and designs. The most commonly used design was the “ear trumpet,” which functioned on the same principle as their predecessors made of horn. By the 1800s, ear trumpet manufacturers began to consider not only function but also form and designed hearing aids with decorative qualities or models that were integrated into collars or hairstyles.

Modern Hearing Aids

The modern hearing aid as we would recognize it today truly began around the beginning of the 1900s, thanks to electrification and the invention of the telephone. The earliest electronic devices were wearable microphone and amplifier combinations. The user would have to hold the microphone in their hand and the whole apparatus ran on very large batteries that had to be carried around. In the 1950s, technology took a huge leap forward when the transistor was invented, allowing hearing aids to become much smaller and more efficient. Today’s hearing aids use digital technology with tiny computers inside devices that can pick up and amplify millions of sounds, greatly improving their efficacy.

For the better part of a millennium, people have been relying on hearing aids to help augment their auditory abilities and enable them to interact with the world around them. At Associated Hearing Professionals, we are proud to play our part in this history by offering state-of-the-art hearing aids and other products to our patients. From choosing the right hearing aid to maintaining and caring for hearing aids after they’ve been acquired, we can help our clients through every step of the process.