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Did you know 17 percent of Americans wear some type of hearing device? With those stats, it’s no wonder technology has gone through so many phases to get to where it is today. Hearing aids are now made in a variety of shapes and sizes, accommodating everyone young and old – but it wasn’t always like that. As the centuries have flown by, the devices have become smaller and more comfortable for each wearer. Never has a boost in technology been felt so much than over the past two centuries. As such, let’s take a peak at how far the technology has come.

Early Hearing Aids

Although they were the first primitive sound amplifiers, ear trumpets weren’t consistent in size and they were pretty cumbersome too. Shaped like big horns that could capture and amplify sounds that were detected. The device would simply funnel the sound into the inner ear to provide the user with so a better chance of hearing than they had before. These earliest hearing aids didn’t really work in a complex way and had to be held, which was quite the hassle. Providing just incremental acoustic improvement to those who needed it, these devices were the most basic form of hearing aid available at the time.

Carbon Hearing Aids

Did you know the design for the carbon hearing aid was based on the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell? hen the late 19th century came around, the first hearing aids as we know them now became invented. The carbon microphone in the late 19th century worked in sequence with a magnetic receiver and battery, where sound struck the outside of the microphone to send the carbon pieces in the hearing aid pressing against the diaphragm. This would all depend on how much sound was created, but the approach certainly had its drawbacks. Even though these pieces moving through the diaphragm acted in the same way as sound waves, they featured poor sound quality and detected only a few frequencies due to the carbon moving through the hearing aid.

Before the Modern Hearing Aid: Vacuum Tube

One of the first portable hearing aids gave way to electronic hearing aid design even though it weighed seven pounds. Still, many people were excited and convinced it was a sign of the future that could truly help those with hearing loss. Vacuum tube hearing aids, making an appearance in the 1920s, underwent further improvements to the basic design tackled by Bell Labs to make the first transistor for hearing aid use. Functioning by using a transmitter from a telephone, this device would convert sounds grouped into electrical signals to amplify sound heard at the receiver end. It would be many years later until the modern hearing aid design was incorporated into the public’s consciousness.

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