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Headphone History

Updated: Oct 28, 2022

The origin of headsets and headphones comes from theatres, defense contracts, a Utah kitchen, and a St. Louis Garage.

Booth Electrophone ~1884

The earliest headphones were used for radio and telephone communication in the late 19th century. It wasn’t until the 1890s, Electrophone a British Company formed by M. Booth connected audiences. Using the lines of National Telephone Company Booth connected customers for their theater performances, news, and entertainment using large earphones that connected below the chin and were held by a long rod. [i][ii]

Electrophone Ad

In the years leading up to World War I the US Navy pursued a pair of headsets invented by Nathaniel Baldwin in his kitchen. Mr. Baldwin was a Stanford-trained Electrical Engineer who was experimenting with sound amplification us

Nathaniel Baldwin Headset

ing compressed air. His “Telephonic Earphone” was made from two telephone receivers and a head bow.[iii] The first set that are constructed like modern headphones. [iv]

In 1958 John Koss and his Engineer Martin Lange, Jr. revolutionized headphones with his SP/3 Stereophone. The headphones were produced to go along with the portable stereo phonograph player they developed. Intended to be an accessory for private listening to the high-fidelity stereo sound of the phonograph.[v]

Koss SP/3 Stereophone

In 2000 Direct Sound’s Steve Rois and John Gresko refined the stereo headphones introducing the EX29 Extreme Isolation Headphone. The EX29 headphones provide the best solution when combining extreme noise isolation, high-quality TruSound™ precision audio, and user comfort. Improvements in comfort, weight, flat response, and reduced outside noise interference from other brands and models. As a unique manufacturing and engineering company, it has built a national and international following of Ambassadors and users, a strong brand name, and patented solutions for the Pro Audio Enthusiast.

EX29 Version 1 ~2000


[i] [ii] [iii] Howeth, Linwood S., (1963) History of Communications in The United States. [iv] [v]

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