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Cultural Artefact Multi-channel Cochlear Implant (Bionic Ear) (1978 - )

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    Cochlear Implant - Cochlear Limited, 'Nucleus 24', C124M, 1998, courtesy of Museum Victoria.
    Details

From
August 1978
Alternative Names
  • Bionic Ear (Also known as)
  • Cochlear Implant (Also known as)
  • Implantable Hearing Prosthesis (Former name)

Summary

The Multi-channel Cochlear Implant was the first device to allow severe-to-profoundly deaf people to understand speech. Graeme Clark working with engineers created the first prototype fully implantable Multi-channel Cochlear Implant. In addition, as senior surgeon he led the surgical implantation of this prototype receiver-stimulator at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital on 1 August 1978. The Multi-channel Cochlear Implant is popularly known as the Bionic Ear.

Details

The concept of the bionic ear dates back to the acceptance of Graeme Clark's PhD thesis in 1969. Clark began this research with the aim of developing a cochlear implant - a device which could be surgically implanted into the cochlea (inner ear). This device would then be used to electrically stimulate the auditory nerves, thereby allowing a deaf person to hear. Clark continued this research from 1970 as the Professor of Otolaryngology at the University of Melbourne. Eventually a prosthesis was developed which could be inserted into the cochlear (inner ear) of a severe-profoundly deaf person.

Between 1974 and 1976, three 'telethons' were aired by Channel 10 to raise funds for research and development into the device. The term 'bionic ear' was coined by Clark in 1974 when the television producers for the 'telethons' asked for a more 'catchy' name for the cochlear implant.

By 1976, the research team led by Clark had produced a benchtop version of the bionic ear. The first cochlear implant to allow a patient to understand speech took place on 1 August 1978. The implant was received by Rod Saunders at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne.

The bionic ear was to become a major Australian contribution to the treatment of deafness.

Events

1969
Research - Graeme Clark completes preliminary studies on the bionic ear in his PhD thesis
1974 - 1976
Business event - Three telethons aired by Channel 10 to raise funding for the bionic ear.
1976
Research - Benchtop version of the circuit design for cochlear implant completed at the Department of Otolaryngology, the University of Melbourne
1978
Research - The first cochlear implant to allow a patient to understand speech was received by Rod Saunders at the Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital

Related Corporate Bodies

Related Patents

Related People

Archival resources

National Archives of Australia, National Office

  • Professor Graeme Clark - Miniature Bionic Ear, 01 Jan 1948 - 31 Dec 1997, A9984, 1558588; National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details

National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

  • Graeme Clark/bionic ear collection [National Film and Sound Archive of Australia], 1956 - 2009; National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. Details

National Library of Australia

National Museum of Australia

Private hands (Clark, G.M.)

  • Graeme Milbourne Clark - Records, 1970 - 1988; Private hands (Clark, G.M.). Details

Records Services, The University of Melbourne

  • T2005/025: NIH Grant Applications, 1987 - 1998; Professor Graeme Clark; Records Services, The University of Melbourne. Details

The University of Melbourne Archives

  • Department of Otolaryngology - Bionic Ear Records, 1949 - 2000; The University of Melbourne Archives. Details
  • Official Opening, Department of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, 1971, 2014.0110; The University of Melbourne Archives. Details

Published resources

Books

  • Clark, Graeme Milbourne, Cochlear implants: Fundamentals and Applications, Springer Verlag, New York, 2003, 830 pp. Details
  • Epstein, June, The Story of the Bionic Ear, Hyland House, 1989. Details
  • Worthing, Mark, Graeme Clark: The Man Who Invented the Bionic Ear, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, 2015, 221 pp. Details

Journal Articles

  • Clark, G.M., Black, R.C., Forster I.C., Patrick, J.F., Tong, Y.C., 'Design Criteria of a Multiple-electrode Cochlear Implant Hearing Prosthesis', Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, vol. 63, 1978, pp. 631-633. Also available at http://hdl.handle.net/11343/28713. Details

Resources

Theses

  • Clark, Graeme M., 'Middle ear and neural mechanisms in hearing and in the management of deafness [manuscript]', The University of Sydney. Carbon typescript. 2 volumes., PhD thesis, 1969. Also available at http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/1194830. Details

Online Resources

Digital resources

Title
Cochlear Implant - Cochlear Limited, 'Nucleus 24', C124M, 1998
Type
Image
Date
1998
Source
Museum Victoria

Details

Jack Roberts