Oticon Alta

Beltone

Contributed by , President of Healthy Hearing

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

How do you determine hearing loss in individuals with communication issues?

Hearing loss can play a major role in one's lifestyle, so it's important to understand the severity of the condition even if the person cannot communicate the condition. 


What is an ENT (ear-nose-and-throat doctor)?

Otolaryngologists (also called ear-nose-and-throat, or ENT, doctors) are physicians who have advanced training in disorders of the ear, nose, throat and head and neck.


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


Active-Noise Reduction Headsets

If noise reduction reduces good sounds, too, then how do noise-reducing stereo headsets deliver such good sound? Could their design be used for hearing aids?


Can I try hearing aids before buying them?

Some hearing centers have hearing aids in stock to demonstrate in the office. For hearing aid types that require a custom fit, purchasing them up-front is required.


Hearing Aid Feedback from Jaw Movement

When playing jazz professionally, the contour changes of my jawline cause feedback in my digital hearing aid which fits inside my ear. Also, the trumpet sound itself causes the hearing aid to cut out completely.


How do hearing aids affect the enjoyment of music?

How do hearing aids affect the enjoyment of music?


VA Hearing Aid Benefits

Dr. Dennis, every now and then I see a veteran in the office. More often than not, I have no idea if they are eligible for VA benefits. Are all veterans eligible for VA hearing aid benefits? How do I know who is eligible? What is the protocol for a vetera


Mild Hearing Loss and Academic Delays

My 8 year-year-old daughter has had a struggle understanding her teachers at school. But when the school nurse tested her hearing she said she only had a mild loss, nothing to worry about. What should we do from here?


Extending Hearing Aid Battery Life

What can I do to make my hearing aid battery last as long as possible?


How Can I Tell if I'm Losing My Hearing?

My family is telling me I need to visit a hearing center and get a hearing test, but I'm not sure. How can I tell if I have hearing loss?


Why is it I seem to hear better when I wear my glasses?

This is a typical comment from people with hearing loss. Hearing loss acts like a filter, filtering out certain sounds. Often, consonants are most affected. So if you have a...


Hearing aids and telephone use

I have difficulty hearing on the telephone. Will hearing aids help me hear better?


I Have Almost No Hearing in the High Tones-- Can Hearing Aids Help?

I can hear low tones fine, but above a certain octave my hearing goes to near -0-. Can hearing aids help me if I just need the high tones?


Voltage of Zinc Air Batteries

Every package of RAYOVAC L13ZA-8 batteries that I open shows maximum voltage of 1.38 volts instead of 1.4 volts as listed on the package. Why is this? Why don't the batteries read 1.4 volts? My hearing aid fades away at about 1.31 volts. The additional .


Causes of Fungal Infection in the EAC

I have a client who has worn an ITE for many years. He recently obtained a new one and shortly after developed a fungal infection in his ear which he attributes to the device. What are the common causes of fungal infection in the ear and how does a hear


Candidates for ALDs

No. People with all degrees and types of hearing loss -- even people with normal hearing can benefit from assistive listening devices.


Digital Hearing Aids for Children

Why should I consider DIGITAL hearing aids for children with severe to profound hearing loss?


Playing the Trumpet Causes Feedback In My Hearing Aid

When playing jazz professionally, the contour changes of my jawline, causes feedback in my digital hearing aid which fits inside my ear. Also, the trumpet sound itself causes the hearing aid to cut out completely.


What is an audiologist?

An audiologist is a healthcare professional who has earned a masters and/or doctoral degree in audiology. Audiology is essentially the science of hearing, as it applies to...


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!