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

Zenith Model A3A-B3A "Radionic" Vacuum Tube Hearing Aid

The Zenith Model A3A-B3A "Radionic" vacuum tube hearing aid was manufactured by the Hearing Aid Division of the Zenith Radio Corporation of Chicago, IL beginning in July, 1944.

The black plastic case measured 5⅛” by 2¾” by ⅞” thick, and weighed 8⅞ oz. without the batteries.

The microphone grill is the series of 9 horizontal slots (top center). Notice the large "Z" on the lower front face.

This was a two-piece hearing aid as it connected to external batteries (battery cords bottom left). The magnetic receiver is at the bottom right.

The Zenith Model A3A used three vacuum tubes. The third vacuum tube likely supplied more power so this hearing aid could also drive bone-conduction transducers. The "A" in the "A3A" part of the model number refers to an air-conduction receiver, and the "B" in the "B3A" part refers to a bone-conduction transducer. Thus, this hearing aid could supply either mode. The unit shown here just had the air-conduction receiver.

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Top view of the Zenith Model A3A-B3A showing the 4-position (2, 3, 4 and the lever straight up for position 1) tone control (left), the large volume control wheel (center) and the on-off switch (right).


 

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Bottom view of the Zenith Model A3A-B3A showing the battery jack (left), and the receiver jack (right). The "butterfly" in the middle swivels 90 degrees to hold the plugs in place.


 

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Close-up view of the Zenith Model A3A-B3A battery plug. The battery plug had the heavy battery wires attached to it. In contrast to the 3-pin plugs of the Model A2A, with the Model A3A-B3A Zenith made the battery plug with 4 pins so there was no confusion which plug went where.

 

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Close-up view of the Zenith Model A3A-B3A receiver plug. The receiver plug had the thin receiver cord attached to it.


 

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Close-up view of the Zenith Model A3A-B3A receivers and ear tips. The pink receiver (top left), the clear plastic ear tip post (right of receiver) and the rubber ear tip (right of plastic post) all snapped together as shown with the pink receiver and parts assembled (top right).

The Model A3A-B3A came with a variety of sizes of rubber ear tips (bottom left) and a variety of sizes of ear tip posts (bottom right).

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Close-up view of the Zenith Model A3A-B3A battery plugs. The 3-pronged plug went into the "B" battery (left) and the 2-pronged plug fit the "A" battery (right).


 

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View of the Zenith Model A3A-B3A hearing aid with both the "B" and "A" batteries attached. This whole assembly weighed a whopping 1lb, 9 oz!

The Zenith Z-30 "B" battery (left) put out 45 volts, while the Zenith "A" battery (to the right of the "B" battery) put out the usual 1½ volts.

 

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Back view of the Zenith Model A3A-B3A hearing aid. The pocket clip is at the top center. The pocket clip could also be attached to the front via the two slots (shown in top picture in the center of the microphone grill).


 

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Close-up view of the back of the Zenith Model A3A-B3A showing the information engraved there. It reads, "ZENITH RADIO CORP. U.S.A.", "BONE-AIR", "FOR USE WITH MODEL A3A-B3A" then gives patent info. and the serial number.


 

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Then, as now, you had to return the registration card for the Zenith Model A3A-B3A "Radionic" hearing aid in order to put the warranty into effect.

 

 

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The Zenith Model A3A-B3A "Radionic" hearing aid came out in 1944 and was being sold in 1945 as this receipt for the return of the warranty registration card, dated Mar 10, 1945, attests.

 

 

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This handy reference card came with the Zenith Model A3A-B3A "Radionic" hearing aid.

 

 

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Rear view of the reference card that came with the Zenith Model A3A-B3A "Radionic" hearing aid.

 

 

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The Zenith Model A3A-B3A "Radionic" hearing aid in its original box.

 

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View of the top of the Zenith Model A3A-B3A "Radionic" hearing aid box.

Notice that Zenith was up-front about the price of their hearing aids—boldly putting the price ($50.00)  on their boxes.

This was in sharp contrast to the other manufacturers who sold their aids for 3 to 4 times as much so didn't display their prices.

 

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The Zenith Model A3A-B3A "Radionic" hearing aid's original box.


 


 

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