10 most influential headphones – in pictures
Headphones have come a long way since their 1891 debut, see the evolution of sound devices in this feature from The Guardian.This article originally appeared on The Guardian
In-ear listening devices, commonly referred to as the earphone or earbud, hark back to the late 1800s when Thomas Edison attached stethoscope-like listening tubes to a phonograph. The first patent for earbuds dates back to 1891, when French electrical engineer Ernest Jules Pierre Mercadier designed the ‘bi-telephone’ for communications use.Earphone technology improved over the next 90 years, with most developments meant for hearing aids and other devices. It wasn’t until the 1980s after the release of the Walkman that the earbud as we know it today began to evolve.
Photograph: Ernest Jules Pierre Mercadier
Nathan Baldwin's headphones, 1910
Mormon fundamentalist electrical engineer, Nathaniel Baldwin, is widely credited as inventing what became modern headphones in 1910 on his kitchen table. His headphones were designed for communications use and were snapped up by the US Navy to be used by radio operators.
German audio equipment manufacturer Beyerdynamic, which started out creating loudspeakers for cinemas, developed the first pair of dynamic headphones the DT48. They used a coil of wire attached to the back of a speaker cone through which the current of the audio signal was carried, causing it to move in a fixed magnetic field to move the air and create sound.Dynamic drivers are still the most popular type used in headphones and speakers today, and the DT48 were still in production in one form or another until 2012.
Koss SP/3 Stereophonics, 1958
Milwaukee-based musician John C Koss partnered with engineer Martin Lange to develop the first stereo headphones, the Koss SP/3, in 1958. The headphones were intended as a way to market a portable phonograph, but after exhibiting the design at a hi-fi trade show, Koss went into manufacturing the so-called ‘stereophones’, setting the design and mechanics of headphone for years to come.