No one really knows who invented the first hearing aid device. A study of the history of hearing aids will show that one of the first electric hearing aids was the Akoulathon. This was made by Miller Reese Hutchinson in 1898.
Hutchinson’s creation was sold in 1901 by the Akaphone Company. The apparatus itself required a carbon transmitter for the hearing aid and telephone. The device was subsequently used to increase the sound. By the 1920’s the transistor took the place of the carbon transmitter.
Early History of the Hearing Aid
However there were other forms of hearing aid that came out before Hutchinson’s invention. These consisted of trumpets, horns and other similar designs. These devices would later change into transistor radio like devices.
During the early history of hearing aids, these devices had to be worn around the body. They were quite heavy and uncomfortable to wear.
These early devices were called ear horns or trumpets. They were shaped like funnel cones and worked by concentrating sound into the funnel. These prototypes were later replaced by the bone anchor hearing aid.
Different Types of Hearing Aids
Since Hutchinson’s invention, hearing aids have assumed various forms and shapes. One of the earliest types was the body worn aid. This was invented by Bells Labs researcher Harvey Fletcher.
In the long history of hearing aids, Fletcher is in fact often credited with inventing hearing aids. Fletcher’s invention consisted of an ear mold and a case where the amplifiers were stored. The case and ear mold were linked by a cord.
These would soon be replaced by the BTE (behind the ear) aids. These consisted of plastic and set on the pinna. Using air conduction, sound is sent to the ear. The tubing comes with an electric speaker through which the sound is amplified.
The BTE became very popular for a number of reasons. They were inexpensive and very strong. In addition, the mold could be replaced very easily. Innovations have led to smaller BTEs. The ones sold now are as thin as hair.
Other Modern Hearing Aids
The history of hearing aids has seen various forms of devices emerge like the in the ear aids. As the name indicates, this device is placed in the outer ear bowl. One of the reasons that these are so popular is that they can be custom made.
A lot of these modern devices have feedback control mechanisms. These hearing aids are rarely used by children as they can be quite difficult to fit in.
There are now wireless hearing aids available. These devices come with programmable settings that allow one to change the settings easily. These are integrated with FM listening systems.
The wireless microphone can be fitted on one individual. Using the wireless hearing aid, the sound or message can be transmitted. These are now being used in many countries.
The early history of hearing aids isn’t that clear, but its progression since then has been anything but. With technology improving rapidly, the quality of these devices is expected to get better.