Many of us use it every day, but how many of you know its history?
Headphones have become an essential accessory of our time. It is both practical and gadget and appears as a fashion or socio-cultural object.
Headphones have been covering our ears for nearly a century, representing today a market of almost a billion dollars. The brands compete in inventiveness and effort to make us wear their favorite helmets.
But let’s go back to the beginnings of the helmet, to that distant time when it was unknown to the general public.
In order to start on a good basis, let’s agree on the definition of a helmet.
Headphones generally consist of two headphones, each containing a mini-speaker made up of a small loudspeaker capable of reproducing all the audible frequencies.
We owe the term “helmet” to the fact that each earpiece is connected by a hoop that encloses the head.
It was around 1919 that Nathaniel Baldwin developed in his kitchen what seems to be the beginnings of the modern helmet as described above. A handyman and a big fan of the inventor Thomas Edison, he hastened to sell his creation to the American naval army, which was immediately won over by this “comfortable” and effective helmet.
In 1937, the German company Beyerdynamic invents and produces the first dynamic headphones, the DT-48 which is still produced today. This was not yet perfect and Beyerdynamic was not yet aware that this type of headset would become more popular for Hi-Fi listening.
The German brand experienced a period of frost following the post-World War II period. It was then that an Austrian manufacturer decided to make itself known and released its first helmet, the K120. You know this brand because it continues to this day under the famous initials AKG (Akustische und Kino-Geraete gesellschaft).
The United States was not going to stay behind any longer and it was in 1958 that John C. Koss, a jazzman from Milwaukee designed the first stereophonic headphones allowing you to take full advantage of stereo discs at home; the “SP-3”.
The Koss brand was thus created and enjoyed its golden age in the American market, which it dominated from 1960 to the 1970s. Tony Bennett (jazzman). The “BeatLephones” signature headset is another example, and that long before the “Beats by Dre”.
On the technical side, the first electrostatic helmet was born in Japan and was presented in Tokyo during a television show in 1959. We owe this helmet named SR-1 to the Japanese company » Stax Industries Ltd » which will disappear in the 90s before being reborn from its ashes.
It will be necessary to wait until the end of the 60s, more precisely 1968, to see the arrival of the ESP-6, the first American electrostatic helmet distributed by Koss.
Thus, several players from different countries have contributed to the development of headphones over the last century. Little by little, we arrive at the modern contemporary helmet which we will talk about in the second part.
To be continued immediately in the history of the headphones (second part)
Discover our selection of helmets.