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The Evolution Of Headphones

Headphones Evolution, The Evolution Of Headphones, stereo headphones, history of headphones, Sony Walkman

If you are like most people, you probably have a pair of headphones or two around your house and maybe even at your office. After all, we all know how great it is to put on a pair of nice headphones to enjoy our favorite music. No matter what type of music you happen to love, you love headphones just like we do! Can you imagine a world without headphones? Seriously, that would not be a better world at all. Just think about it for a minute. Without headphones, we would have to play our music out loud. The fact is, even if we think that the type of music we happen to love is absolutely amazing, others absolutely disagree. It would be chaos. Of course, headphones have not always been around and they have evolved throughout the years. But how did headphones come about and get to be as popular as they are today?

The First “Headphones”

You will be surprised to learn that the very first “headphones” were not meant for music at all; they were actually headsets for phone operators so that they could hear callers well. These early headsets were first produced in the 1880s. Yep, almost 150 years ago. They were obviously not digital and one can only imagine the poor quality of the sound. Apparently, these headsets actually had to be held on the person’s shoulder and were single earpieces; plus, they weighed a hefty 10 pounds. Imagine having to use something like that! Thankfully, you don’t have to because headphones soon began to evolve.

The First “Real Headphones”

People knew that headphones could be used for music back then because there were several attempts made at producing what we would now call headphones, including the electrophone system of 1895 that looked more like a stethoscope than anything else. But it was not until Nathaniel Baldwin began to produce his version of headphones in 1910 that they finally resembled our modern headphones. Nathaniel worked on his invention in his kitchen and was probably very excited about it since he was obviously a visionary. Unfortunately for Nathaniel, the general public did not yet catch on to what great invention headphones were (maybe because they did not have iPods back then) and his invention did not do well with common people, but someone did take notice. The US Navy saw the genius of Nathaniel’s invention and bought hundreds from him. We hope he made a pretty penny off of that deal.


Nathaniel’s nifty invention remained a military thing for various decades. It was not until 1937 that The DT-48s from a German manufacturer named Beyerdynamic became the first dynamic headphones to be seen by the general public. The DT-48s were obviously a big leap forward. Unfortunately, the second world war would stall headphone technology for more than a few years.

Koss SP-3

John C. Koss was a jazz musician who made history in 1958 by introducing the first stereo headphones into the market: the Koss SP-3. Koss would go on to make good money in the headphones industry because of this marvelous model which was no more than a pair of speakers with a cool-looking headband. Koss even endorsed the Beatles at one point with a headphones model that had a Beatles sticker on it and were called the “Beatlephones.”


The SR-1s was introduced to the world in Tokyo in 1959. They were the first electrostatic headphones that anyone had ever seen and they look pretty awesome, too. Plus, they were acknowledged as sounding spectacularly clear when compared to other headphone models that people were used to then. Nowadays, there are those who say that electrostatic headphones are superior to everything else while others say that they are an acquired taste.  

The Walkman Changes Everything

In 1979, Sony changed absolutely everything by introducing the Walkman to the world. Sony’s Walkman allowed people to have a truly portable way to listen to their music for the very first time, and it included Sony’s MDR 3L2 headphones which might look a bit cheap and primitive to us today but were truly something to behold back then. After that, more companies got into making headphones and they kept evolving into the headphones that we know today.

Modern Headphones

Over 40 years after Sony changed the game forever, it is estimated that more than 300 million headphones/headsets are sold throughout the world on a yearly basis. A figure that would make Nathaniel Baldwin very jealous indeed! Check out these DALI Headphones and you will experience superior music hearing with these headphones.

More on this topic:

The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones In The Market

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