What is the history of ear plugs?

Author: Polly

May. 13, 2024

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History and development of hearing protection devices

Military need has spurred the invention of hearing protector since the times of Greek mythology. Earplugs were patented in 1864 and canal caps attached to an adjustable headband in 1884 as protection for soldiers and sailors. Attempts to limit gunfire noise by mechanical devices commenced in 1905, leading to Mallock‐Armstrong plugs for use in the First World War. Disposable earplugs were patented in 1914 also. Systematic development of earplugs for forces during the Second World War culminated in the V‐51R. Leather flaps over the ears were supposed to protect the crews of military aircraft. The increased noise of jet engines led to the production of recognizable earmuffs, although the stiffness of the cushions required a strong headband to ensure a seal against the head. This caused a vicelike grip. The problem was overcome with the development of fluid‐filled cushions by Shaw in 1954. Progress has continued towards comfort and acceptability, with glass‐down appearing in the late 1950's, conformable foam plugs in the 1970's, and nonlinear electronic systems incorporated into muffs in the 1980's.

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A Brief History of Ear Plugs

Whether you're covering up the droning sounds of your partner's snores, getting some z’s after a long night shift, or blocking out the cries of children on long-haul flights, we’ve all used earplugs at some point in our lives.

And honestly, many of us couldn’t live without the handy little contraptions.

So who blessed our lives with them in the first place? Here we’ll look into the various inventors who brought new earplugs into our lives, and how they’ve evolved over time.

Beeswax? No Thanks…

The earliest trace of earplugs goes way back to Ancient Greece in the poem The Odyssey, when Odysseus’ men were advised to block out the sound of Sirens using beeswax. Granted this stopped the men from being called to their deaths, but it doesn’t sound like the most comfortable stuff to have in your ears…

Anything Goes

After its introduction through Ancient Greek literature, people were pretty much left to their own devices when it came to ear protection. The unwritten rule was that anything you could easily put in and take out of your ear was good to go, whether that was beeswax, wool, or cotton. Until...

The Big Production

Earplugs were finally manufactured in 1907 by the saviour that was the inventor Max Newgar. He sold them through his company Ohropax, letting people in on his secret to an oh-so-quiet life.

They were originally sold to men working in factories, those staying in hospitals, and men serving in the first world war.

His business is still going today and here at Earjobs, we stock Ohropax products - including both classic wax and soft foam earplugs.

If you want to learn more, please visit our website What Decibel Ear Protection for Shooting.

Mouldable Silicone is Created

Earplugs got way more comfortable in 1962 when Ray and Cecelia Benner created earplugs made of mouldable silicone, sold as ‘Mack’s pillow-soft earplugs’.

The appeal behind these was that they were not only much comfier to wear, but didn’t melt in the heat, either.

Mouldable silicone allows earplugs to fit over the ear canal rather than inside it, and are the top choice for those who swim or bathe often.

We now have a whole range of silicone variations for you to discover.

The Discovery of Memory Foam

Just when people didn’t think blocking sound and water out of their ears could get any more comfortable, Ross Garner developed an energy-absorbing resin in 1967 which was swiftly developed into memory foam. The first memory foam earplugs were used in 1972 in the E.A.R. Classic.

These quickly surged in popularity and became the most common type of earplug currently in use today. Foam earplugs proved to be the answer for those working in very loud environments as they can block out the most noise.

The Modern Day

Fast-forward to 2019, and we now have the broadest range of earplugs available. You only have to check out the Earjobs online store to see for yourself - everything from shooting to swimming ear protection is up for grabs.

We love creating the perfect ear protection for every person and lifestyle, and at the end of the day, it’s all thanks to good old Odysseus.

The company is the world’s best Electronic Ear Protection Vs Passive supplier. We are your one-stop shop for all needs. Our staff are highly-specialized and will help you find the product you need.

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