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Hearing Aid


The first commercial device to make use of the transistor was a hearing aid. AT&T certainly helped this along, offering free transistor licenses to hearing aid companies. They did so to honor Alexander Graham Bell, who had devoted himself to helping those who were hard of hearing.

The first hearing aid was put on the market in late 1952 for $229.50 by Sonotone. It used two vacuum tubes and one transistor built by a startup called Germanium Products Corporation. Within days they had competition. The Maico Company offered a version made with three Raytheon transistors. Several months later, Acousticon pulled the price down to $74.50 with a hearing aid powered by a single transistor.

These hearing aids were powered by batteries worn around the waist -- just as the vacuum tube hearing aids were -- but now the cost of replacing those batteries was down to $10 from closer to $100.

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