Oticon Alta

Beltone

Contributed by , President

Beltone is based near Chicago, Illinois and is one of the largest hearing instrument manufacturers in the U.S. It also has a global presence - its products are sold in more than 50 countries around the world. Beltone prides itself not only on its devices, which are engineered for comfort and ease of use, but on its reputation for customer care.

History

The Early Years

In the 1930s, a man named Sam Posen developed a simple hearing aid so his friend could regain some of his hearing and enjoy life again. The device must have been successful, because by 1940, Posen formed The Beltone Company in Chicago in a meager 120-square-foot office space downtown. That same year, Beltone introduced its first-ever hearing aid - the Model H™. Posen built the devices in the back room while his wife, Faye, tested customers' hearing and fitted them for aids.

Beltone headquartersIn 1941, a representative from a Minneapolis hearing aid distributor visited the Beltone office and convinced the Posens to sell their devices there. Even though it was World War II and materials were scarce, they forged ahead. Faye's brother, Daver Barnow, joined Beltone in 1943 and convinced the Posens to have an exclusive network of dispensers. While the war is continuing, batteries are rationed, but Beltone requested access to a compact battery being used exclusively for war efforts, and in 1944 access was granted. The company used it in its revolutionary Mono-Pac device - the first all-in-one hearing aid.

By the mid-1940s, Beltone had really taken off. The company had 75 employees, a 17,500 square-foot factory and 50 distributors around the country by 1945. The next year, the Beltone Harmony™ is introduced, and it is smaller than others on the market due to the fact that it uses mercury batteries, which are smaller than others. Also in 1946, the Posens unveil the Selectometer, which aids dispensers in fitting customers. Beltone sets its sights on international markets with the launch of Beltone International that same year.

In 1947, with the war over, the U.S. government releases the printed electronic circuit for citizens' use, and in 1948, Beltone released the first hearing aid to rely on the printed electronic circuit, rather than soldered wires: The Symphonette™. By 1949, Beltone has more than 100 distributors in North America.

The 1950s

With a decade of success, Beltone decides to keep the ball rolling in the early 1950s by focusing on consumer education and erasing misinformation about hearing loss and stereotypes about hearing aids. It advertises, opens an Institute for Consultant Training and hosts the first international convention for hearing aid dispensers in Chicago. At the convention, Beltone launches the Melody™ body aid and demonstrates its use by having two models with the hearing aid receivers clasped to their bras. It also introduces receivers that clip on to brooches, ties and eyeglasses.

The company continued to progress. In 1952, Beltone opened a 30,000 square-foot headquarters in Chicago, and in 1953, it introduced an updated version of the Lyric™ body aid with vacuum tubes and transistors. Next comes The Concerto™ - an all-transistorized body aid, followed by The Allegro™ - a light and small device that appeals to women for its ability to be hidden in their hairstyles - and then The Operetta™. Beltone has more than 300 employees at this point, and the Posens' son Larry joins after receiving a degree in electrical engineering.

In 1956, the company launches its Hear-N-See™ - a binaural hearing aid at the ear level that is attached to eyeglasses. In 1957, Beltone introduces an eyeglass aid that uses bone conduction. The company's first behind-the-ear hearing aid, the Minuet™, is for sale in 1958, and it's even featured on a soap opera.

The 1960s and 1970s

Beltone spends the 1960s defining itself. It has a huge presence on CBS radio shows, which serves as a great advertising mechanism. Beltone defines its mission, which is focused on hearing rehabilitation rather than just providing people with hearing aids. It also establishes itself as a charitable organization, donating audiological equipment and hearing aids to underprivileged people in South America. In 1963, Beltone moves to its fourth plant in the Chicago area, which is equipped with state-of-the-art research facilities as well.

The 1960s also saw more game-changing innovations from Beltone. In 1964, Posen invents the Micro-Module electronic circuit, which makes it possible to have an even smaller behind-the-ear hearing aid. It uses this technology in its Serenade behind-the-ear device. Next up is The Bravo, which also uses the Micro-Module circuit and uses a custom ear mold for the first time for comfort. In 1967, Beltone's "Beat the Heat" kit is introduced with silica gel as a dehumidifier to remove moisture from hearing aids so they last longer. In 1969, Beltone makes custom ear molds for each U.S. astronaut, including those on the Apollo mission to protect their hearing during lift-off and re-entry.

Beltone continues experiencing major success in the 1970s. It expands its headquarters yet again, celebrates its 30th anniversary, holds three inaugural Beltone International conventions and Sam and Faye's son, Larry, takes over as president in 1974.

After 50,000 hours of development, Beltone launches its Certifax verification system in 1977 to help hearing health care practitioners assess, measure and evaluate the sound quality of Beltone hearing aids. In 1979, Beltone opens its first affiliate in Canada.

The later years

By the 1980s, Beltone was a well-established company that continued to experience success. It launched the Ode™ in 1983 - its first in-the-canal hearing aid, which likely convinced more people to get hearing aids as it was a discreet device. Plus, 1983 was the year that President Reagan was fitted for hearing aids, likely erasing much stigma. Beltone expands its global reach in the 1980s, and in 1987, Beltone launches a petite hearing aid with a patented wax guard system - its 60th patent - that uses smaller batteries for a micro-canal hearing aid. Beltone also made advancements in diagnostic testing with The Model 2000 in 1988. In 1989, it reveals the most powerful canal hearing aid on the market - the Opera Max™.

The 1990s and 2000s bring about several advances in diagnostics and devices: The Invisa™ in 1994, which is virtually invisible, the SelectaFit™ fitting software in 1996, the Beltone Digital™ in 1998, the Beltone AVE™ for fitting in 2002, the Marq™ - the smallest behind-the-ear hearing aid on the market, and the Beltone True™ in 2011, which is completely wireless.

Today, Beltone remains a competitively global hearing aid manufacturer with a strong reputation in patient care, innovation and customer service.

This content was last reviewed on: July 7th, 2014

Beltone Hearing Aids News
Frequently Asked Questions

Decorative ''Jewelry'' for BTEs

My hearing loss group wants information about decorative jewelry for BTE hearing aids and decorative covers. If you have any information, it would be greatly appreciated.


Can I wear invisible hearing aids?

The shape and degree of your hearing loss will determine which styles may work best for you, with smaller hearing aid types generally suited for less significant losses and larger styles suited for any level of hearing loss.


Does Consumer Reports publish hearing aid reviews?

Consumer reports published an article covering hearing health, hearing aids, and hearing protection. While they did not provide actual hearing aid reviews based on brands and models, they did report on the process that people go through when purchasing hearing aids.


What are digital hearing aids?

Most hearing aids manufactured today are digital hearing aids. This technology offers many advantages for people with hearing loss.


What is a cochlear implant?

For patients with severe to profound sensorineural hearing losses, hearing aids are often not able to improve speech understanding. While very powerful hearing aids exist, that...


Advantages of Digital Hearing Aids

I purchased a set of digitally programmable hearing aids in 1998, and they are still working fine. What is the advantage to digital hearing aids, and is it worth the cost to upgrade?


Cleaning ITE Hearing Aids

I wear In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aids. How should I keep them clean? Is there a recommended cleaning protocol for everyday use and is it OK to use some sort of hand wipes?


Cochlear or Middle Ear Implant Candidate?

My mom has a terrible hearing loss. Please tell me the difference between a cochlear implant and a middle ear implant and which one do you suggest?


Asymmetric Hearing Loss from Shooters Ear

I am looking for information about hearing loss and firearms. I read an article some years ago that gave information about the difference in ear-level dB exposure in shooters/hunters that shot both right and left handed. The premise of the article was tha


What happens if I lose my hearing aids?

I recently purchased new hearing aids and am concerned about losing them. What happens if I lose my hearing aids?


Hearing Aid Options with Transcription Devices

Is there any solution to using the headphones with a transcription machine while wearing BTE's? I usually close my office door and use the machine without the headphones. However, there are times when I should use the headphones. I can use them but it is


How can I understand my hearing test results?

Understanding the results of your hearing test, or audiogram, can help you determine what type of hearing loss and degree of hearing loss you are experiencing.


Connection between tinnitus and wisdom teeth?

Years ago I read that tinnitus can be caused when wisdom teeth are not being pulled. The teeth put pressure on nerves, and this causes the tinnitus. I've been told my wisdom teeth are severely impacted . I have suffered tinnitus since I was about age 16.


Hearing, Hearing Loss and Spouses

Would you please discuss the influence of the spouse (or significant other) regarding seeking solutions for hearing loss, hearing aid sales, and successful AR with amplification?


Why Do Some Batteries in the Same Package Last Longer Than Others?

Why do some batteries in the same package last longer than others?


Hearing Loss and ADD

How can you tell if a person with hearing loss also has ADD?


Hearing Requirements for Military Service

I have a patient who is a rising senior in high school. He is very interested in pursuing a career in the military. However, he has bilateral high frequency hearing loss. This prompts my question: What criteria are used by the military to determine eligi


What is the difference between analog hearing aids and digital hearing aids?

Digital refers to the way the hearing aid processes sounds.


Can I Buy Hearing Aids Online?

People who buy hearing aids online are susceptible to many problems, including fitting issues, the need for hearing aid repairs, and lack of follow-up care and service.


What is an Adequate Trial Period with FM Systems

I am an education-based SLP in Ontario, Canada, who plays a significant support role in assisting with the paperwork, installation, in-service, and troubleshooting of Audiologist-recommended FM systems for several students (CAP) in our system. We have no


Preferred Professionals Near You
See More Preferred Professionals

Clinics above not close enough?
Search with your zipcode below.

Sign Up for Our eNewsletter
Our free eNewsletter is delivered to your inbox every two weeks - it’s the best way to stay informed about what’s new at Healthy Hearing!