The history of hearing aids

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Independent Hearing Care is taking you back in time to where hearing aids began… 

The first known hearing device was a far cry away from the discreet, advanced technology hearing aids we see today.

Back as far as the 13th century man was using all parts of an animal to his advantage. For hearing, people would use hollowed out horns from cows or rams, wide at one end and narrow at the other they worked by funnelling the sound down into the ear. 

By the 1700’s a similar shape would be made out of copper or brass and was named an ear trumpet. It was the first invention which attempted to help those with a hearing loss. This bulky, largely unsuccessful device was more a hinderance than a help and it wasn’t until the use of electronics in the 19th century that progress was really made.

In 1898 Miller Reese Hutchinson made a break through when he used an electric current to amplify weak signals, and in 1913 the the first commercially manufactured hearing aids were born. 

This would mark the beginning of huge advancements in technology throughout the new century which would refine the hearing aid into the discreet and comfortable device we wear today. 


Vacuum tubed hearing aids were produced. The tubes were able to turn sound into electrical signals and that signal was then amplified. Hearing aids with vacuum tubes were more portable and reliable in controlling electricity flow than their carbon controlled predecessors. 


The technological advancements of world war 2 was a turning point in the development of hearing aids. By the 1950’s transistors had replaced vacuum tubes allowing hearing aids to be made smaller and, more importantly, with clearer sound. 


The invention of the microprocessor and move to digital technology was another huge leap forward for hearing aid technology. 


This saw the creation of microcomputers and high speed processors which would begin the progression from analogue to all digital hearing aids. 


The first all digital hearing aid was brought to the market. The door was finally open to a future of devices that were not only packed with technology but would sit discreetly behind or completely inside the ear. 

2010 onwards

In 2010 Bluetooth enabled devices were manufactured and it seems every year there were even more advancements. Some of the more recent being:

  • Rechargeable hearing aids that sit in a charger rather than changing batteries.
  • Waterproof hearing aids.
  • Invisible in the ear devices that are worn inside the ear canal and go totally unnoticed. 

Technology has enabled those with hearing loss to stay part of the conversation. It has allowed people to maintain communication and relationships which are vital for overall well-being. 

The development of new ideas make the possibilities seem endless, especially when it comes to improving the lives of those with hearing loss. At Independent Hearing Care we can introduce you to the latest, most advanced hearing aid technology and reconnect you with the sounds you love to hear. 

If you would like to talk to us about our hearing solutions and how they might benefit you, book an appointment with one of our audiologists. 

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