Headphones as we know them originated from an adaptation of the telephone earpiece, with the first working set being developed in 1910 out of Nathaniel Balwin’s kitchen. These early headsets were uncomfortable, had poor sound quality, and in the case of early radio applications carried high voltages and posed a shock risk to their users. Then in 1958, when headphones had primarily been used by the government or professionals in the telephone/radio industry, John. C. Koss and Martin Lange developed the first stereo, high-fidelity headphones, the SP/3, as an afterthought from a failed attempt to develop a portable photograph.
The portable earbud we’re familiar with was adapted from the hearing aid, and a lot of hardcore computing in the 60’s. It’s amazing, the transition another 60 years would bring to get us to the wireless earbuds we see today.
Headphones have had a fairly consistent design for much of their lifespan. If your device consists of two sound producing ear-cups joined by a band that sits over the top of the head, it’s likely a pair of headphones. Likewise, sound producing buds that sit in the ear canal, either with an audio cable or bluetooth capabilities are likely the earbud varietal of the headphone.
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