From Ronald Reagan's Hearing Aid to Cyborg Ears for Baby Boomers

President Ronald Reagan at Ellis Island on May 3, 1987 Photograph by Diana Walker/Liaison

This September marked a peculiar anniversary: It’s now been 30 years since Ronald Reagan got fitted for a hearing aid in the Oval Office. Not unlike Katie Couric’s live colonoscopy 17 years later, Reagan’s fitting was a watershed moment for hearing loss—and for the aural device market. ”The industry in the U.S. doubled over the following year,” says Jerry Ruzicka, president of Starkey Hearing Technologies, the company that manufactured Reagan’s device. “I’ve been in the business for 36 years, and nothing has had that impact.”

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