Hearing aids are one of the best inventions of the 20th century, at least in terms of technological prowess. They have restored hearing to millions around the world, and have improved the hearing of thousands more. Even still, we look forward to the better integration of technology that will allow for personalized and individualized hearing aids. In order to truly appreciate the tremendous progress that we have made regarding hearing aids, we should take a closer look at the past models and see how far we have come.
Ear Trumpets: The Basics
One of the first types of hearing aids that were ever produced is called the ear trumpet. These were pretty much any metal implement that had a hollow end and a flared end through which sound could travel. The larger, trumpet, end of the device would capture sound and then help direct it into the ear. While this was not the very best type of hearing device, it was a very basic way to help people get a slight edge in terms of their hearing. These were in fashion in the 17th through 19th centuries, but were replaced as technology grew.
Vacuum Tube Hearing Aids
The vacuum tube hearing aid did not directly precede the ear trumpet, but it is notable because it is an interstice between the basic and electric models of hearing aids. Essentially, this hearing aid used many parts from the telephone in order to capture sound from the environment around the listener, and then turned it into an electrical impulse inside of the vacuum tube. At this point, it would be transmitted through the receiver and into the ear piece of the user at a much loud rate. This amplification allowed the person to hear much better than before, and was also one of the first hearing aids that were truly portable, at only a little over five pounds.
Carbon Microphone Hearing Aids
One of the other hearing aids that came after the ear trumpet was the carbon hearing aid. This hearing aid was a rather complicated machine that used a large battery, a magnetic piece, and a carbon microphone. The microphone would take in the sound and use it to hurl the carbon pieces across the product into a diaphragm. This would amplify the noise and allow the individual to hear a much louder sound than the original. However, this came with the drawback that it would be scratchy sound of poor quality. Also, since the whole contraption was so large, you could never take it outside of the home. It also required a very still environment, but it was still a very large step forward for people.