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Hearing aids: A history

hearing a historyThought hearing aids came out fully formed and hospital beige? We've got news for you. Take a walk down memory lane with us as we explore the vagaries of human hearing implements throughout history whilst simultaneously thanking our lucky stars that we don't actually have to use any of them nowadays. 

Once upon a time, people with age-related hearing problems were left to fend for themselves in a world in which they could no longer hear birdsong or the shouts of their other halves as they misheard them for the tenth time that day. Luckily, several intelligent individuals throughout history decided enough was enough and set out to rectify this problem, bit by painstaking bit...

Biting the bullet

One of the first mentions of hearing improvements came from an optimistic chap named Girolama Cardano, in 1551. He suggested clamping a spear between one's teeth to aid hearing. We say optimistic because, well, who wants to walk around holding a spear in their gob?

The birth of the ear trumpet

ear trumpetFast forward a few decades and the first incarnation of the hearing aid was born, in all its horn-shaped glory. The ear trumpet, not immediately a sell-out due to its cumbersome size and, well the fact that it looked like a trumpet, took a while to blossom to its full potential, but by the mid-1800s it was positively de rigeur sort of to be seen with a conical device protruding from one's lughole. Then the first collapsible ones were made, and hearing-aid manufacturers everywhere congratulated themselves. 

Undercover aids

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By the late 19th century, hearing device developers (there's a title to conjure with) were cottoning on to the fact that not everybody cared to be seen sporting gigantic hearing apparatus and got down to creating some of the first 'discreet' aids. From headbands to fancy fans, disguise and artful arrangement came together to provide the wearer with a modicum of discretion. 

Thankfully, the hearing aid circa 2015 is a different animal entirely. There are plenty to choose from and a wealth of information available to make sure that you get the right - discreet - one. 

Modern day aids

tiny hearing aidMuch like Bob Dylan a few decades later, when hearing aids went electric (well ok, digital) at the end of the 19th century, everything changed. Portable in the same lumbering way that the first mobile phones were, this nevertheless marked an important step in a new era of technological advances that would make huge a difference to people with hearing loss.

From this point, devices began to shrink slowly over the years until they became the sophisticated aids we know today. In fact, it's suprising just how tiny they can be. assiciation logo