The history of headphones

Headphones have been wrapping our ears for almost a century, gradually evolving from niche product to mass-market $1+ billion revenue generator. While there has always been the slow march of hi-fidelity headphones from companies like AKG and Sennheiser, the history of headphones can be traced through several notable eras, to today’s craze around celebrity endorsements.

Some may dispute their sound quality compared with the brands favored by headphone aficionados, but one thing’s indisputable: today, celebrity-branded headphones are flying off the shelves onto consumer’s heads at amazing speeds.

With their help perhaps, market research firm IBISWorld projects that revenues for the headphone manufacturing industry will increase to 1.18 billion by 2016. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; the history of headphones starts where most technology originated, with the US military:

They may have started out as heavy and unsightly metal devices for military use, but for some people today’s headphones are as much a fashion statement as a device enabling us to enjoy our favorite music in private.

Money-making hype or the cool, smart way to listen to your favorite tunes on the go – what do you think of the current celebrity wave of headphones?