Two 'Emitome' hearing aids mid 20th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Two hearing aids both with leads and earpiece, one shown in its original case. The transition to battery powered hearing aids occurred in the early 20th century. Initially the battery packs were cumbersome and had to be carried in separate boxes or strapped to the individuals leg. The early aids were carbon type, followed by vacuum tube aids introduced in 1939. In 1944, the first vacuum tube hearing aid was developed which contained the battery inside the aid. The first transistor hearing aid was introduced in the 1950s. With the development of the transistor, the aids were able to become smaller and more powerful. The use of microchips for programming hearing aids was introduced in 1985 to better meet individual needs.