Without a doubt, one of the most important forms of technology that has been invented in the last century has been the hearing aid. While there have been many different forms of devices aimed at increasing hearing in people in the past, they only served as a basis for the modern incarnation of devices. Since they are such an important part of the rich history of this thriving technology, it is important to take a look at the ways that they have evolved over the last two centuries.
One of the first devices that were created for the purposes of hearing better than usual was the ear trumpet. This simple design used a piece of metal or wood that was formed with a large open end connected to a smaller open end that could serve as a funnel for sound. Noise would be captured from the direction that the horn was facing, usually towards a speaker. The sound was then moved into the ear so that the person could hear well. This went on for hundreds of years, and prompted the initial research into the hearing aids that we see today.
Carbon Hearing Aids
Another one of the types of hearing aids that we see in the early part of the 20th century was the carbon microphone hearing aid. These devices were constructed using many complex and difficult to produce items of the time. As a result, they were typically expensive, heavy, and never taken into public. They worked by having the carbon microphone pick up sounds and then send pieces inside of the machine flying into a magnetic diaphragm. This would cause the sound to be much louder than the initial sound level. While this was a good idea, it came with many different detractors. The level of sound was amplified but at the cost of the sound quality. This means that you would hear more scratchy noises than you would normal hearing sounds.
The final type of hearing aid to be created before the advent of the electric types of hearing aids was the vacuum tubes. Using parts from other machines like radios and even older phones, these hearing aids were a technological marvel. The sound would be taken in a receiver, and then put into the vacuum chamber where it could be made louder by electrical induction. After this, the sound could come out of the other end even louder than ever before. This made it a very successful hearing aid, but also made it one of the most convincing hearing aids for people looking for a reason to look into the hearing aid future.