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

Vactuphone Vacuum Tube Hearing Aid

The Vactuphone was the first vacuum tube hearing aid to be commercially produced. It was invented by Earl C. Hanson. He patented it in 1920. The Vactuphone was manufactured as a collaborative effort between the Western Electric Company which manufactured it and the Globe Phone Manufacturing Company which distributed it. It came to the market in October 1921.

It was basically a carbon hearing aid using a single triode Western Electric 205-A peanut tube for amplification. It operated from a 1˝ volt No. 6 dry cell "A" battery and a 24 volt "B" battery. These were both contained in a large compartment that opened up in the bottom of the case. Back in 1921, the Vactuphone cost $135.00.

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Back

 

 

 

 

Close-up of the front of the Vactuphone earphone.

There is normally a headband that holds the earphone in place (not shown.)


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Close-up of the earphone showing the inscription on the back, "Made in USA, Western Electric, Pat. in USA July 23, 1918, D-75384"

 

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As you can see, the Vactuphone was not worn on the body, rather it was a "table-top" model and was larger than a box camera of the day.

The round grill on the side is the opening for the microphone.

 

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A close-up of the microphone grill.

 

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Close-up of the carbon microphone (removed from its normal position in the "box").

 

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The interior of the Vactuphone with the lid open. The earphone is stored in the compartment at the top right. The carbon microphone (black) is visible on the left side, while the volume control is on the right side.

You can see the top of the peanut tube immediately to the right of the microphone.

 

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The Vactuphone used one 205-A peanut tube in its amplifier.

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Close-up of the on-off switch/volume control, shown in the "Off" position. When the arrow points at the "On", it is set at full volume.

 

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Picture showing the position of the volume control on the outside of the case. The volume control was on the opposite side of the case from the microphone so that the person using the Vactuphone could face the microphone towards the person speaking, and yet have the volume control facing him for easy adjustment.

 

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Name plate affixed to the outside of the Vactuphone showing the manufacturer's name.

 

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Patent tag affixed to the outside of the Vactuphone showing the patent information. The patent for this hearing aid was issued on June 15, 1920.

You can see the patent papers here.

 


 

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