Following is the daily "Profile America" feature from the U.S. Census Bureau:
A FAIR HEARING
This month in 1901 brought good news for the hard of hearing, as Miller Reese Hutchinson of New York patented the first portable electric hearing aid. Called the "acousticon," the device was a smaller version of previous tabletop units. While portable, it still had three components and used batteries that only lasted for a few hours. But it was far superior to ungainly hearing trumpets or simply cupping a hand behind the ear. One of its earliest, grateful customers was England's Queen Alexandra in 1902. Now, tiny digital hearing aids that users can program for maximum effect help millions to hear normal conversations. Making medical equipment and supplies is a nearly $79 billion a year business in the U.S.