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History of the Audiogram and Hearing Aids: A Walk Back in Time


April 20, 2016

Audiograms are a tool used by audiometrists to plot out the results of a hearing test. The plot measures loudness and pitch. From there, they can help share the results with a patient and create a plan of action. Hearing tests have come a long way. Below are some historical facts of how the audiogram and the modern hearing aid came to be.
  • Use of Charts: Prior to today’s current method, audiometrists did use a chart structure to evaluate a person’s hearing. In a study by Hearing Health Matters, the beginning of the chart dates back to 1885. They used seven tuning forks in various frequencies to determine a listener’s response. They explained this chart, which was developed by Arthur Hartmann, had markings for each ear for around 30 seconds to one minute. As time went on, the invention of the audiogram took place and grew in popularity in the 1920s.
  • World War II and Hearing Loss: After the Second World War, which used artillery, there was a large population of soldiers who suffered from hearing loss. After that war and onto Vietnam, many soldiers not only experienced hearing loss, but also suffered from tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Many call this a “silent” epidemic as many suffering from these issues were embarrassed that they were losing the ability to hear. However, it also did aid for the advancement of hearing aid devices.  
  • Harvey Fletcher: Harvey Fletcher is the inventor of the audiometer and early versions of hearing aids, and is known as the “Father of Stereophonic Sound.” After he graduated the University of Chicago, he taught at for five years until he accepted an offer for the then Western Electric Company. This later became Bell Laboratories. During his time there, Utah’s History to Go explains he dealt with high-fidelity recording, sound motion pictures and the first accurate clinical audiometers for hearing measurement.  Learn more about Harvey from one of his children’s perspectives on the National Academies Press website.
  • Invention of the Hearing Aid: Work on the first versions of electronic hearing aids began in the 1870s and the first one was used in 1898. This device, which was created by Miller Reese Hutchinson, used a carbon transmitter to increase sound. As time went on, more advanced versions were created that eventually got smaller, and by the 1920s, versions were created that fit inside the ear. It wasn’t until the 1960s before digital hearing devices became more popular.   
If you are one of the 48 million Americans experiencing hearing loss and issues, Resonance can help! After you have the results of a hearing test, we can help you find the hearing device you need at wholesale prices.  With today’s advancements and our prices, you’re guaranteed to find a device to improve your hearing. Plus, we empower you with the knowledge to clean and maintain your device to save you on repair costs. Get started and find where you can get a hearing test in your area by filling out this form.