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

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.


Ear Mold Materials

Does the degree and type of hearing loss impact the decision to use hard versus soft ear mold materials?


Hearing Aid Compatibility with FM Systems

When I bought my hearing aids 3 years ago, I could not afford an FM system. Is it possible to get one now that will work with my existing aids?


How Do I Clean My Hearing Aids?

I wear In-the-Ear hearing aids. How should I keep them clean? I know I am not supposed to get them wet, but can I use hand wipes?


My ears itch when I wear my completely-in-the-canal hearing aids. The hearing aids are otherwise perfect. What can I do?

My ears itch when I wear my completely-in-the-canal hearing aids. The hearing aids are otherwise perfect. What can I do?


Hearing Protection for Young Children

Are there precautions we should take to protect the hearing of very young children? Is the hearing mechanism of infants more susceptible to damage from noise than that of adults and older children?


What is ''background noise'' and how do I deal with it?

Virtually all patients wearing hearing aids complain about background noise at one time or another. There is no way to completely eliminate background noise. Remember, when you...


What are open hearing aids?

Many of my friends have purchased open hearing aids and are having wonderful success with them. What exactly are open hearing aids?


FM Systems use with Cochlear Implants To Hear Audience Questions

My friend has a cochlear implant. In her job, she has many public speaking engagements. She will often have to present information and answer questions from the audience. She turns up the microphone so the audience can hear her but it does not always help.


Digital Hearing Aids for Children

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


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.


How is Hearing Loss Measured?

Hearing loss is measured by a professional during a comprehensive hearing evaluation. During the hearing evaluation, the ability to hear the loudness of specific tones is assessed.


What are the causes of and treatments for hearing loss in one ear (unilateral hearing loss)?

The causes of unilateral hearing loss include ear trauma, noise exposure, and genetics. Unilateral hearing loss treatment depends on the cause and type of hearing loss.


Bone Conduction Implants and Ossicular Continuity

If a potential candidate for a bone conduction implant does have a functioning ossicular chain, could they still be a candidate? When implanted, what are the down sides to having a bone conduction unit in terms of limitations and benefits?


Delayed Hearing Loss from Morse Code Transcription

I copied morse code in the military for over two years averaging 8 hours a day on the radio with headphones listening to code through radioprinter noise and atmospheric noise. I am now thirty years later experiencing hearing loss in the middle and high f


Using Someone Elses Hearing Aids

My mother was recently found to have a hearing loss. We still have my father's old hearing aids. Can they be used for my mother?


Are hearing aids covered by insurance?

Some insurers do cover hearing aids. However, each situation is different! Even though a particular insurer offers hearing aid coverage, you may or may not have it available yo...


Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) Testing

How do you find an audiologist who knows how to test for CAPD correctly? How much should a person typically pay for those tests? Is it important for adults with possible CAPD be tested, and will the diagnosis really help them?


If I start wearing hearing aids and wear them everyday, will I become dependent on my hearing aids?

Most people who are fit with hearing aids enjoy hearing sounds again and find that they do not want to be without their hearing aids.


Do hearing aids hurt your ears?

In most cases, hearing aids fit comfortably and do not cause pain or irritation.


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!