Deafblind Department Hearing Aid Collection

Samuel P. Hayes Research Library
Perkins School for the Blind
175 N. Beacon Street
Watertown, MA 02472


Perkins School for the Blind

Date Range: 
1920s-2000s, bulk 1960-1970s
Call number: 

Collection of hearing aids and related materials from the Perkins School for the Blind Deafblind Department. The Collection consists of one vacuum tube hearing aid, seven transistor hearing aids and four “sample display” digital hearing aids, two Globe Auditube Conversation Tubes with attached to gold-handled transformer device, two crystal piezoelectric earphones, four crystal piezoelectric headphones, and one vintage headphone amplifier. Additionally, there is a 1975 Hearing System Selector SEA Guide.

4 boxes containing hearing aids, headphones and a Hearing System Selector Guide.
Processed by: 

Jane Pipik, 2019

Biographical/Historical notes: 

The Deafblind Department has developed a total communication educational approach. This approach includes sign and spoken language, written language, braille, pictures, objects, gestures and other low and high tech augmentative communications systems, such as hearing aids. Their staff specialties include audiologists, behavior consultation, health services, occupational therapy, sensory motor integration, social work, speech and language and school psychology. 

The earliest hearing aids were created in the 17th century with the Ear Trumpet, Speaking Tubes, and Ear Fans. Electronic hearing aids were developed in 1898 after the invention of the telephone. The first Vacuum Tube hearing aid was patented by a Naval Engineer Earl Hanson in 1920 and sold by Marconi in 1923. Transistors hearing aids, developed by 1945, were much lighter and cooler than the Vacuum Tube hearing aid. These hearing aids were replaced with the advancement the Digital Hearing Aid. This digital-based device morphed into the high speed digital array hearing in 1987, making way for the “All-Digital” hearing aid in 1995. Further Digital Hearing Aid advancements continue, reducing the size and increasing operation options for the user.

Sources of information: 

Curan, James and Galster, John, “The Master Hearing Aid.” Trends Amplif v.17(2); 2013 Jun PMC407061,

Hearing Aid Museum: Widex Body Style Transistor Hearing Aids:

Hearing Aid Museum: Miscellaneous Items: Hearing Aids-Types of Digital Hearing Aids:

Signa Hearing Aids Portfolio: Digital Hearing Aids

Scott’s Crystal Radios: Headphone Heaven vintage headphones for crystal set use

Wikipedia: History of Hearing Aids:

Credit line/Citation: 
Deafblind Department Hearing Aid Collection, Perkins School for the Blind

The collection contains a total of 10 hearing aids: The oldest hearing aid was made circa 1945. Five hearing aids were made from the 1960s through the 1980s. The last four hearing aids were “sample displays” models, never worn. Some of these sample models are still being sold today. These models are circa 2000s. Additionally, the collection contains Short Ear Trumpet Ear Horns, Crystal Earphones, and Headsets with a Headphone Amplifier Box.


4 Boxes

Box 1: Hearing Aid 1945

Box 2: Hearing Aids circa 1960s-1980s

Box 3: Hearing Aids circa 2000s

Box 4: Short Ear Trumpet Ear Horns and Crystal Earphones and Headsets with Headphone Amplifier Box, circa 1920s

Container List: 

Key to Abbreviations: 

B1:F1: = Box 1: Folder 1

Box: 1:

B1: One USA Zenith Model A3A-B3A "Radionic" Vacuum Tube two-piece hearing aid with Zenith Model A3A-B3A receivers and ear tips, and Zenith Model A3A-B3A receiver plug, circa 1945.

Box: 2:

B2:F1: One Widex S20-05523 Transistor (Body) Hearing aid, Denmark, circa 1980.

B2:F2: One Oticon P 11 P 75-105 transistor hearing aid with earpiece Scotland] 1975.

B2:F3: Three USA Dyna-Tone Model 500 SP transistor hearing aids:14408, 14736, 15506, circa 1975.


One USA RADIOEAR 980 565YO transistor hearing aid, 1967.

B2:F5: One USA Zenith Vocalizer II ZF590 name blurred out JOHN P DUFFY Zenith Vocalizer II Transistor (Body) Hearing Aid, Stainless Steel Case, Modified Version, Made In USA, circa 1960s.

Box: 3:

B3:F1: Zenith Hearing System Selector Saturation Earmold Amplification (SEA) Guide, c.1975.

B3:F2: One unopened Primax digital hearing aid instruments “sample display packet” containing Models Insio CIC, Ace, Pure, Motion SX manufactured by Siemens, circa 2000s.

Box: 4:

B4:F1: Two Globe Auditube Conversation Tubes, made in Reading, MA USA.  Attached to gold handled transformer device. circa 1920s.

B4:F1: Two Brush crystal earphones. One earphone has an attached Lorgnette Model A handle,circa 1920s.

B4:F2: One Tower’s Super-sensitive crystal piezoelectric headphone, 300-ohm double set, Brookline, MA, USA. circa 1920s.

B4:F3: One Federal Telephone and Telegraph Company crystal piezoelectric headphone, Type 58-W 2200 Ohms, Buffalo, NY, USA. circa 1920s.

B4:F4: [Presumed] Headphone amplifier with six volume knobs and six  ¼” headphone inputs,  [for headphones] circa 1920s

This collection was transferred to Perkins Archives by the Audiologist in the Deafblind Department in October 2018. Box 4 has a provenance note saying the “Phipps Unit in the deaf-blind department had this left with them in June, 1942.” The note also stated that it had been used, “by a blind woman, who had bought and used it in England, but who had died and had wanted it put where it would be used or as museum piece.”
Subject Headings: 

Perkins School for the Blind.

Perkins School for the Blind--History.

Perkins School for the Blind—Deafblind.

Blind-- Education.


Hearing Aid–History.

Hearing Aid –Technical development.

Copyright © Perkins School for the Blind