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Something worth hearing

The beginning of the hearing aids from Siemens

Ingo Zenger
Published on April 1, 2017

The history of hearing aids at Siemens started in Berlin in the summer of 1911: Carl Kloenne, a director at Deutsche Bank, was hard of hearing. He wanted an electric hearing aid. A friend, Professor August Raps, was the head of the Wernerwerk plant in Berlin’s Siemensstadt district, where telephones were being produced at the time. Raps tasked his assistant, Louis Weber, with producing a device to help with Kloenne’s severe hearing loss.

Siemens-Telefon mit Hufeisenmagnet 1877_16x9

Siemens-Telefon mit Hufeisenmagnet aus dem Jahr 1877
Quelle: Siemens Historical Institute

Louis Weber

Louis Weber, developer of the first Siemens hearing aid 

Phonophor mit doppeltem Schallfänger

Phonophor with double microphone, 1913

The unit was launched on the market in late 1913, in several versions. In one configuration, a special ladies’ version, the microphone and battery were held in a purse. Another version took the form of a folding camera, a popular accessory at the time, complete with a discreet leather carrying strap. Hearing loss sufferers were also able to choose from one, two, or even four microphones right from the start, for a configuration accommodating their individual level of hearing loss.

Phonophor-Modell für Damen ca. 1914
Frau mit haselnussförmigem Hörer für Telefonistinnen, ca. 1920

A woman with a hazelnut-shaped earphone (ca. 1920) 

Ingo Zenger
Ingo Zenger
By Ingo Zenger

Technology journalist and author at the Siemens Healthineers Historical Institute