Sonotone - Largely miniature.

Hearing aid update now, from our bureau stationed in 1957! I hope you're sitting down. Miniaturized electronics was less miniature then than it is now! Allow yourselves a minute or two to let your monocle fall into your coffee in slow motion before you continue reading.
Even more monocle-dropping is the fact that advertising people deceive you for a living, and always have. Hey, take your hand off your rapier. I speak the truth. "Miniature" is a relative term, and what was tiny then is firkkin huge today.

Sure, Sonotone was proud of their wee little hearing aids, but they weren't exactly invisible. This ad features three different hearing aids at three levels of smallness and probably at three different price points. The more you can afford, the smaller your hearing aid is. Trouble is, back in'57, all of the hearing aids were totally visible from one direction or another. So what do you do if it's your job to market them to people? Do you run a clear photograph of your product and say "See? They're not THAT big." Hell no. You take photograph of three nude men wearing the hearing aids from the one angle that makes all of them invisible.

The nude man on the left is wearing a Sonotone Model 333, which looks like a metal plum connected to an earpiece by a length of aquarium hose. I don't know where you hide the main unit. Maybe it's held to the guy's skull by an implanted magnet?

Middle nude man is wearing a Sonotone 222, which, from the description, is one of these jobs...
Not too bad, but it's only invisible if you look at the back of the wearer's head. Well done, Marketing division of Sonotone, Inc.

Similar to Sonotone hearing glasses. May induce neck strain.

Lastly, nude man on the right is wearing the moderately clever hearing aid/glasses combo. This featured electronics so small that the mechanism could be hidden inside the earpiece of a standard pair of massive 1950's glasses. And, by a happy convergence of fashion and plastics technology, glasses in the 50's routinely had earpieces no larger than an ordinary cricket bat. These are kind of nice, when you think about it. Just by taking off your glasses, you can effectively be "off the grid". No hearing or seeing. Nice for naps.

Full disclosure: these are the kind of glasses I wear, because my dad had some just like them. While my hearing is just fine, I did hollow out the left earpiece for clever concealment of Technology. Right now, I have a VHS deck and a set of socket wrenches hidden in my glasses.

1962 Hardinge toolroom lathe and my dad.

So, in the Sonotone ad, if the camera were rotated 180 degrees, the hearing aids would all be clearly visible. Good thing nobody ever talks to anyone from non-prescribed angles.

Some captions for the picture in today's ad...

Joke #1 - "Welcome to the WORLD OF TOMORROOOOOW! I trust your defrosting was comfortable. Which color catheter do you prefer?"

Joke #2 - "HE ha ha! No I'm not a doctor, but I learned this trick from one. Cough."

Joke #3 - "HA ha ha ha ha ha, this is really funny how we're all naked! Hey, whose puddle?"

Joke #4 - Stu was a nice enough guy, but he liked to talk at the most awkward moments. Jeff always found it hard not to stare when Stu wasn't wearing his nipples.


Steve Miller said...

On an unrelated matter, your dad and my dad would have had a hey-ho time discussing the finer points of micrometer use.

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Ooooooh, dad had very strong opinions about his micrometer. It was a Starrett, and he always put it right back in the velvet-lined case when he was done micometering something. No point in measuring something with a dinged-up tool that's not accurate any more. I still have it, along with the rest of his engineering kit. It's all in a walnut tool box with felt-lined drawers. Very few of the tools I understand, but I'm hanging onto them in hopes I learn a bit in the future, and because of beauty.

Thanks, Steve!

Steve Miller said...

Yes, Starrett rules!


Anonymous said...


(I know, bad hearing pun - sorry, someone had to do it)

Anonymous 2

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