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-200 Vacuum Tube (Barrette) Hearing Aid

The Acousticon A-200 (barrette) hearing aid was produced by Dictograph Products, Inc. of New York in 1951. This is a unique hearing aid in that it is the only vacuum tube barrette hearing aid ever made (as far as we know).

The Acousticon A-200 measures 4⅜” by 1” by ⅞” and is quite hefty—weighing 4.6 oz. with the batteries.

You can read the instruction booklet that came with this cordless hearing aid.
 

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The Acousticon A-200 hearing aid required both barrettes to contain all the electronic components and batteries. Thus, you could only use this hearing aid for one ear. (The "battery" barrette is on the left and the "electronics" barrette is on the right.)

The case of each barrette is made of faux tortoiseshell—a mottled red plastic material, very pleasing to look at—especially with the light shining through it. The top and bottom is made of black metal.

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The Acousticon A-200 hearing aid also came in white plastic with a silver metal upper cover, and in solid black metal (shown here in the bone conduction transducer configuration).

 

 

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The "battery" barrette contains either the receiver or bone conduction transducer and the two batteries.

This hearing aid had a cool feature. You could use it with either a bone-conduction transducer (shown) or with a standard air-conduction receiver and ear mold (see below).

 

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The "electronics" barrette contains the microphone, volume control/on-off switch, 3 vacuum tubes and other electronic components.

 

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Close up side view of the above barrette showing the vacuum tubes (top). There were three miniature vacuum tubes placed side by side across the top.

 

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The microphone occupied the lower end of the "electronics" barrette. The microphone is the light colored object on the left.

Beside the microphone at the top is the volume control/on-off switch. This was the only control on this hearing aid.

 

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Top view of the bottom part of the  "electronics" barrette showing the microphone port (opening).

 

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The Acousticon A-200 showing the black, metal battery cover in place (large center section). The battery cover was held in place by a clip. To open it, you simply grasped the "wings" at the sides and pulled it up.


 

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The Acousticon A-200 barrette hearing aid with the battery cover removed showing the battery compartment.

 

 

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The Acousticon A-200 took two batteries. The "A" battery (right) was a 1.4 volt Mallory RM-1 mercury battery (or equivalent).

The "B" battery (left) was a 15 volt Eveready 504E or equivalent.

 

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The model number "Acousticon Mod. A-200" is shown on the underside of the "electronics" barrette.

 

 

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The serial number (17494) is visible on the center "rib" on the right of the "electronics" barrette.

A metal plate was riveted on the underside of both barrettes to provide a slot for the headband to slide through so it could be adjusted for different sized heads.

 

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The underside of the barrettes showing how they are wired together.

Note the slots running down the middle of the bottom metal pieces where the headband was inserted. (The headband on this version is missing.)

 

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View of the underside of one of the black barrettes of the Acousticon A200 hearing aid. Note that there are actually two slots on the undersides of the barrettes set at right angles. As a result, the barrettes could be worn over the head hanging vertically, or horizontally around the head.

Here the headband is shown inserted in the short slot so the barrettes could be worn horizontally.

If you look carefully you can see the serial number (34571) of this black version (upside down) on the left end of the horizontal slot.

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View of the Acousticon A200 hearing aid (black barrettes) showing the band configuration for wearing the barrettes horizontally.

 

 

 

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View of the Acousticon A200 hearing aid (black barrettes) showing how the barrettes looked when being worn horizontally.

Note the bone conduction transducer in place held tightly against the mastoid bone behind the ear.

 

 

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Rear view of the Acousticon A200 hearing aid (black barrettes) showing how the barrettes looked when being worn horizontally.

When the hair was arranged judiciously, these barrettes were practically invisible.

 

 

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View of the Acousticon A200 hearing aid (black barrettes) showing the band configuration for wearing the barrettes vertically.

 

 

 

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View of the Acousticon A200 hearing aid (black barrettes) showing how the barrettes looked when being worn vertically.

Again note how the bone conduction transducer was held tightly against the mastoid bone behind the ear.

 

 

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Front view of the Acousticon A200 hearing aid (black barrettes) showing how the barrettes looked when being worn vertically.

When worn this way, the barrettes could also be hidden under the hair. This hearing aid was touted as "A Hearing Aid Without Cords!" As strange as it may seem, this hearing aid was also worn by men under their hats as also shown in this blurb.
 

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The two barrettes were connected by a short 4-wire cable that plugged into the top of each barrette.

 

 

 

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The two barrettes were connected by a 4-wire cable. Shown is the four-pinned plug and socket on the  top end of  the "electronics" barrette.

 

 

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Shown here is the four-pinned plug and socket on the top end of the "battery" barrette. The plugs and sockets are identical so it didn't matter which end of the cable was plugged into which barrette.

Notice the white dot on the end of the barrettes. This corresponded with a similar white dot on one side of the plug so you know how to plug them in correctly. (Incidentally, you couldn't plug them in "backwards" as the 2 left and 2 right pins have a different amount of space between them.)

 

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Below the battery compartment, at the tip of the "battery" barrette was another unique feature of the Acousticon A-200 hearing aid. This was a compartment where the air-conduction receiver could be hidden.

The cover unclipped at the bottom and swung to the side—held in place by the rivet on the right

 

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The air conduction receiver snapped to the nubbin at the bottom of the case.

The short wire with plug on the end plugged into either the bone-conduction or air-conduction receiver—whichever one was being used at the time.

The air-conduction receiver could be stored there when using the bone-conduction receiver. You just unplugged the wire and closed the lid. The wire came out through a groove in the side of the plastic case.

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The air-conduction receiver compartment of the Acousticon A-200 hearing aid showing the air-conduction receiver snapped to the nubbin and with the receiver plugged in.

 

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End view of the "battery" barrette showing where the ear mold tube attaches to the air conduction nubbin on the Acousticon A-200 hearing aid.

 

 

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If you were using the air-conduction receiver, the ear mold attached to the nubbin to conduct the sound from the internal receiver to the ear canal.

 

 

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From the top, the bone conduction transducer (left) and the air conduction receiver (right) look identical.

 

 

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Either the receiver or transducer could be plugged into the hearing aid. Notice that flat pins on the plug—a distinguishing feature of Acousticon aids at that time.

 

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Bottom view of the bone conduction transducer (left) and the air conduction receiver (right).

 

 

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Close-up of the underside of the bone-conduction transducer.

 

 

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The bone-conduction transducer had two small holes for a wire spring clip to hold it tightly against the mastoid bone. This spring clip presumably attached to the underside of the "battery" barrette. This spring clip is missing.

 

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The Acousticon A-200 nestled in its case. The bottom of the box had a raised center "platform" to hold the barrettes in place.

 

 

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The Acousticon A-200 black version nestled in its case. The bottom of the box had a raised center "platform" to hold the barrettes in place.

Note: the box for the black version did not have a hinged lid.

 

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The Acousticon A-200 in its original case. Note that the lid and sides of the case are lined with a patterned silver paper.

 

 

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Outside view of the original case for the Acousticon A-200.

In the bottom right corner in Silver Script is the word "Acousticon" (You can see it faintly, especially in the larger picture.)

 


 

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