Hugh Hetherington Hearing Aid Museum
Hugh Hetherington Hearing Aid Museum

The Hearing Aid Museum

Hearing Aids of all types—Ear Trumpets, Carbon Hearing Aids, Vacuum Tube Hearing Aids, Transistor Hearing Aids, Body Hearing Aids, Eyeglass Hearing Aids and much more!

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Click on the "General Information" button (top button above) for an overview and general information on this category of hearing aid.

 

Vacuum Tube Hearing Aids: 1921-1953

Acousticon A-180 "Golden Jubilee" Vacuum Tube Hearing Aid

The Acousticon A-180 "Golden Jubilee" vacuum tube hearing aid was produced by Dictograph Products, Inc. of New York in 1952.

The Acousticon A-180 hearing aid measured 2½" x 1¾" x ⅞” (6.4 x 4.5 x 2.2 cm)  and weighed 2.2 oz. (66 g) without the batteries.

This hearing aid was one of the few that had an optional external microphone so it could be "hidden" in plain sight.

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Front view of the Acousticon A-180 hearing aid showing its attractive gold-colored case with vertical stripes over a dark brown chassis. The Acousticon crown on a black background was inset in the bottom right corner.

 

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View of the back of the Acousticon A-180 showing the large swing-up battery door that covered about 2/3 of the back.

 

 

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Inside view of the Acousticon A-180 vacuum tube hearing aid showing the three miniature tubes it used.

It used 1 Raytheon CK542DX tube (top) and 2 Raytheon CK549DX tubes (mid and lower).

 

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There were actually two versions of the Acousticon A-180—the original version, and a modified version.

The original Acousticon A-180 (left) and the A-180 [Mod] (right) had two obvious differences on the front. First, the A-180 had the pocket clips on the sides, whereas the A-180 [Mod] had them on the front. Second, the crown logo of the A-180 (bottom right corner) had a black background (left), whereas the A-180 [Mod] had a blue background (right).

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Bottom view of the Acousticon A-180 vacuum tube hearing aid showing the push button and thumb notch to open the battery door.

 

 

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Bottom view of the Acousticon A-180 (left) and the A-180 [Mod] (right) showing the difference in thickness between them. The A-180 at 7/8" was 1/16" less than the A-180 [Mod] at 15/16".

 

 

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View of the inside of the battery compartment showing the batteries in place.

The Acousticon A-180, like all vacuum tube hearing aids, took two batteries. The "A" battery (top right) was a 1.4 volt Mallory RM-1 mercury battery (or equivalent). The "B" battery (bottom) was a 15 volt Eveready 504E or equivalent.

To the left of the "A" battery is a gold-colored plate showing the Acousticon logo and below that the model number, "Mod A-180" and below that in smaller lettering, "Pats. Pending" and "Made in U.S.A.".

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The Acousticon A-180 came with a yellow tube of 3 "A" batteries. They were RM-1 size. Vacuum tube hearing aids typically went through 2 or 3 "A" batteries for every "B" battery.

 

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Note the spring clip above the "A" battery of the Acousticon A-180 vacuum tube hearing aid. This clip served two purposes. First, it held the battery compartment door open, but more importantly, it provided the electrical connection to the positive terminal of the battery when the door was closed. The yellow plastic sheet glued to the inside of the battery door insulated the clip from the metal case.
 

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The serial number (9677 G) is stamped into the bottom right side of the Acousticon A-180 vacuum tube hearing aid.

 

 

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Top view of the Acousticon A-180 showing the two external microphone jacks (bottom left) with the internal microphone grill between them, the receiver cord jack (center) and the volume control/on-off switch (right).


 

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Close-up view of the top left corner on the back of the Acousticon A-180 showing the off and on positions for the volume control wheel.


 

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Top view of the Acousticon A-180 showing the external tie-clip microphone cord unplugged, and how it straddles and blocks the sound from the internal microphone when plugged in.

 

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Close-up view of the external tie-clip microphone plug. Notice how the plastic on the left curves down so that it will exactly fit the curvature of the hearing aid body.

 

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Top side view of the Acousticon A-180 showing the external tie-clip microphone cord plugged in. Notice how the plug fits the curvature of the hearing aid body as it curves down to the left. It largely blocked sounds going to the internal microphone when the external microphone was in use.

 

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Close-up of the external microphone of the Acousticon A-180 showing the microphone cable unplugged.

 

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Close-up of the external microphone of the Acousticon A-180 showing the microphone cable plugged in.

 

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Front view of the external tie-clip microphone of the Acousticon A-180.

 

 

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Front view of the external tie-clip microphone of the Acousticon A-180. The microphone was quite attractive, but "heavy-looking".

 

 

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Side view of the external tie-clip microphone of the Acousticon A-180 showing where the tie would be held between the spring clips.

 

 

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Top view of the Acousticon A-180 "Golden Jubilee" vacuum tube hearing aid showing the receiver cord unplugged.

The receiver cord plug was unusual in shape and function as it also doubled as convenient knob for turning the noise suppressor on or off.

 

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Top view of the Acousticon A-180 "Golden Jubilee" vacuum tube hearing aid showing the "wing" on the knob pointing away from the white dot. In this position the noise suppressor is turned off.

This is the normal position.

 

 

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Top view of the Acousticon A-180 "Golden Jubilee" vacuum tube hearing aid showing the receiver cord plugged into the receiver jack.

The plug has two positions. When the "wing" on the knob is pointing to the white dot, the noise suppressor is on.

According to the manual, "The noise suppressor should be used in noisy surroundings such as restaurants, on noisy streets, in the vicinity of noisy machinery, etc.

You will find that in noisy surroundings, people unconsciously raise their voices in an effort to be heard above the noise. These loud sounds may at times overtax the vacuum tubes inside your transmitter and cause the noise and speech to blend, making it difficult to understand the speech.

By turning the noise suppressor knob to the left,—noise and speech are brought to your ear in normal proportions."

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Rear view of the Acousticon A-180 "Golden Jubilee" vacuum tube hearing aid receiver showing the receiver cord plugged into the receiver.

 

 

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End view of the Acousticon A-180 "Golden Jubilee" vacuum tube hearing aid receiver plug and jack.  Notice that flat pins on the plug—a distinguishing feature of Acousticon aids at that time.

 

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The receiver (left) and the hard plastic ear mold (right) of the Acousticon A-180 "Golden Jubilee" vacuum tube hearing aid.

 

 

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The ear mold snapped to the nubbin in the center of the receiver of the Acousticon A-180 "Golden Jubilee" vacuum tube hearing aid.

 

 

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Instead of using the normal receiver/ear mold configuration, you could use a relatively "invisible" phantom ear mold. That way the clear ear mold and tube was all that was visible. The receiver was hidden below the collar of your shirt. The phantom ear mold shown here had an 11" tube. It snapped to the nubbin in the center of the receiver of the Acousticon A-180 "Golden Jubilee" vacuum tube hearing aid.
 

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Close-up view of the phantom ear mold unsnapped from the nubbin in the center of the receiver of the Acousticon A-180 "Golden Jubilee" vacuum tube hearing aid.

 

 

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The receiver with the phantom ear mold snapped onto the nubbin in the center of the receiver.

 

 

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Close-up view showing the phantom ear mold snapped to the nubbin in the center of the receiver of the Acousticon A-180 "Golden Jubilee" vacuum tube hearing aid.

Note the "chain" coming out of the side of the phantom ear mold base. Using the last link, you could pin the receiver to hold it in place inside your shirt.
 

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Close-up view of the phantom ear mold. These ear molds are very similar to the ear molds used in behind-the-ear hearing aids. They just have much longer tubes.

 

 

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Close-up view of the inside of the box showing the phantom ear mold (left) and the information regarding this ear mold pasted into the lid of the box (right).

Read the note enclosed with the phantom ear mold.

 

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Outside view of the box the phantom ear mold came in. The box measured 2 15/16" x 1⅞" x 1¼" (7.5 x 4.8 x 3.2 cm).

 

 

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View of the front cover of the Instruction Manual for the Acousticon A-180 "Golden Jubilee" vacuum tube hearing aid.

Read the Instruction Manual.

Also, read the included article, "Learning to Hear Again".

 

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The Acousticon A-180 "Golden Jubilee" vacuum tube hearing aid in its original two-tiered case.

Also included were instructions for the Acousticon Humidrier (not included).

 

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Outside view of the attractive case for the Acousticon A-180 "Golden Jubilee" vacuum tube hearing aid.

This case measured 7⅜" x 5⅜" x 3¼" (18.7 x 13.7 x 8.3 cm).

Tami Isom donated this hearing aid to the Hearing Aid Museum in memory of her grandfather, Knute Esterby, of Appam, ND who wore it.

 


 

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