Commercially manufactured hearing aids first came to market somewhere around 1913, and throughout the entire 20th
century, more and more device innovations ensued, meaning that by the new millennium, almost everyone was able to get the hearing help they needed.
Some major breakthroughs in hearing aid history that occurred during this time include:
- Vacuum tubes (1921-52) – which controlled electricity flow better than carbon
- Transistor technology (1950ish) – enabling hearing aids to be made as lighter, more compact equipment that could finally be worn discreetly, to a certain degree; either wholly inside or behind the ear
- The shift from analogue to digital devices (beginning in the early 1980s)
As our understanding of technology grew, so hearing aids got makeover after makeover. This helped ensure they were always fit for purpose and that there was minimal self-consciousness around wearing them. With the invention of high-speed computing in the 1980s, it seemed that each new year brought a fresh hearing aid wonder; for instance, rechargeable
batteries. All-digital hearing aids took centre stage in the ’90s, and by 2005, these devices accounted for approximately 90% of hearing aids on offer in the UK.