Headphones history? When and how did it all start - Consordini (2024)

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Headphones history? When and how did it all start - Consordini (1)

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Despite headphones being considered must-have accessories, not many of us know about the history of a gadget itself. We might have experienced different types of headphones through the years, and might witnessed the technical evolution of headphones but we barely know how it all started.

Here we tried to introduce headphones to all of us who can’t imagine a day without them. Take a look!

When were first headphones invented?

Though there are many different sources and beliefs, the most common is that the first headphones were actually invented by a man named Joseph Henry, who was also one of the founding fathers of electromagnetism. He came up with the idea while working on a telegraph system, and realized that he could use magnets to transmit sound. This led to the development of electro-acoustic technology, which is still used in headphones today.

However, the designer of first prototype of headphones as we know them today is familiar. It wasn’t until 1881 that the first actual headphones were developed. They were created by a man named Nathaniel Baldwin, and were used primarily by telephone operators.

He created them in his kitchen in Utah. His idea was to improve on the telephones of his day by making a pair of earpieces that would fit over a person’s head. The headphones were an instant success and were soon being used by the military and others who needed clear communication. Nathaniel Baldwin’s headphones are still in use today, though they have been updated and improved over the years. It wasn’t until 1910 that headphones began to be widely used by the general public.

Early-ages headphones development

In the early 1900s, headphones were mass-produced for the first time. The first mass-produced headphones were introduced by the American company Zenith Radio in 1919. Zenith’s headphones were made of Bakelite, a durable plastic that was popular at the time.

During the 1920s, headphones became increasingly popular with music lovers. In 1925, German company Beyerdynamic released the DT-48, the first pair of dynamic headphones. These headphones were significantly more efficient than earlier models, and they quickly became a favorite among audiophiles.

In the 1930s, another major breakthrough occurred in headphone technology. In 1931, British company Blaupunkt released the world’s first electrostatic headphones. These headphones were more comfortable and efficient than any other model that had been developed up to that point. In the 1930s, several companies began mass-producing headphones. This helped to lower the cost of headphones and make them more accessible to the general public. This was also the decade when headphones began to be used in professional settings, such as by pilots and air traffic controllers

During the 1940s and 1950s, headphone technology continued to improve. The 1940s saw the development of new headphone technologies, such as noise-canceling headphones. These headphones were designed to block out external noise, making it easier to concentrate on what you were listening to. Headphones were also used during World War II by soldiers in order to communicate with each other while avoiding detection by the enemy. In 1949, American company Koss released the world’s first stereo headphones, the Koss SP/3. These headphones allowed users to enjoy the stereophonic sound for the first time.

Headphones became even more popular in the 1950s as the stereo sound became available. This was a big improvement over monaural sound, and it made listening to music much more enjoyable. This decade also saw the development of portable headphones, which were perfect for listening to music on the go.

In 1958, another major milestone was reached with the introduction of the world’s first open-back headphones, the AKG K120. These headphones provided a more natural listening experience than previous models, and they quickly became popular among professional musicians.

The 1960s and 1970s saw the development of new headphone technologies, such as open-back headphones and in-ear headphones. Open-back headphones provide a more natural sound, while in-ear headphones are small and convenient. These new developments helped to make headphones even more popular.

Modern-day headphones

Today’s headphones come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: they allow you to enjoy your music without disturbing those around you. But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, the history of headphones is a long and fascinating one, dating all the way back to the early 1800s.

The first headphones were large and bulky and often required external power sources. This changed in the 1950s with the development of transistor-based headphones. These new models were much smaller and more portable and quickly became popular with music lovers.

There are many different types and manufacturers of today’s headphones. We created article where you can check what is on today’s market. You can check it out here!

Headphones history? When and how did it all start - Consordini (2024)


What is the history of headphones? ›

The first headphones were developed in the late 19th century for use by telephone operators, to keep their hands free. Initially the audio quality was mediocre and a step forward was the invention of high fidelity headphones. Headphones exhibit a range of different audio reproduction quality capabilities.

How did the 1910 headphones work? ›

Baldwin's headphones contained a mile-long coil of copper wiring in each earcup, which received sound without using electricity, and set the precedent for the large cup shape of modern earphones. The headset's earphones were connected across the head by two elegantly spaced bands.

Did headphones exist in the 20s? ›

Headphones have been wrapping our ears in music for almost a century, gradually evolving from a niche product to a mass-market $1+ billion revenue generator. The latest headphones craze: celebrity end... This infographic explores the history of headphones, from their humble beginnings in the 1920s until today.

Did they have headphones in 1964? ›

1964—Sony Corp. released its hand-held EFM-117J radio, an early use of the smaller 3.5mm headphone-jack socket. 1979—Sony launched its first personal stereo Walkman, the “TPS-L2,” making headphones ubiquitous.

Who invented headphones and why? ›

Engineer Nathaniel Baldwin invented the first pair of audio headphones resembling modern day pairs at his kitchen table in 1910. The Navy ordered 100 pairs, not knowing that Baldwin was making them by hand.

When were headphones first invented? ›

It wasn't until a French engineer filed a patent in 1891 for a lightweight and comfortable earbud-style headphone that the design started to resemble what we know today. In 1895, the first civilian broadcast headphones emerged, allowing people to enjoy live music and information from the comfort of their homes.

What were headphones originally invented for? ›

Image of What were headphones originally invented for?
Nathaniel Baldwin was an American inventor and industrialist, known for his improved telephonic earphone, among other inventions. He was also a supporter of the early Mormon fundamentalist movement.

When and who invented the headphones? ›

The man behind the invention of the first modern headphones was the American engineer Nathaniel Baldwin. It was said he made the first pair - a headset that could amplify sound - by hand in his kitchen in 1910.

What is the oldest headphones? ›

Nathaniel Baldwin invented headphones in 1910. With the US Navy's guidance, Baldwin's final design consisted of two sound receivers, each containing a mile of copper wiring, attached to the operator's headband. This design was the foundation for electricity-free telephones used in World War II.

Did headphones exist in the 60s? ›

1960s: the first wireless headphones and open-back cans

In the 1960s, multiple manufacturers offered solid state radio headphones that enabled you to listen to radio while looking a bit like one of the Cybermen from Doctor Who. Headphone design really evolved during this period.

When was AirPods invented? ›

AirPods are wireless Bluetooth earbuds designed by Apple Inc. They were first announced on September 7, 2016, alongside the iPhone 7. Within two years, they became Apple's most popular accessory. AirPods are Apple's entry-level wireless headphones, sold alongside the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max.

What did the first headphones look like? ›

Back in the early 1890s, headphones were single-sided, heavy speakers that people would hold on to an ear to communicate. This later evolved into something known as an 'Electrophone'. It was a system consisting of a stethoscope-shaped headphone connected to a switchboard.

What are the 5 uses of headphones? ›

Applications of headphones and earphones
  • For monitoring. This type is mainly used at music production sites. ...
  • For listening. It is designed to enjoy music mainly for home audio, portable headphones and wireless headphones. ...
  • For portability. ...
  • Noise canceling. ...
  • DJ headphones. ...
  • For drums.

How has headphones changed over time? ›

From single-ear to earbuds, from wired to wireless, from active noise cancelling to acoustic technology, the development of headphones has been constantly evolving. Modern headphone designs are more ergonomic, comfortable, and have better sound quality and richer features.

What is the history of the first headphones? ›

The first true headphones, as we know it now, were designed by an engineer called Nathan Baldwin on his kitchen table. As much as people ignored his invention, the US Navy understood the importance of his invention and bought hundreds of them. These were used for defence purposes.

Who invented the first headphones and when? ›

The man behind the invention of the first modern headphones was the American engineer Nathaniel Baldwin. It was said he made the first pair - a headset that could amplify sound - by hand in his kitchen in 1910.

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