The First 30 Years of Innovation

The early 1980s represented a new electronic age which saw the introduction of numerous technical devices to assist consumers in telephone communication and increase their access to and appreciation of music. Products such as personal portable radio/cassette players, FAX machines, cell phones and compact disc technologies were introduced. This time frame was also a period of advancement of in-ear technologies and greater public acceptance of hearing aids. On September 7, 1983, during a routine press conference, the news media observed that President Reagan was wearing a hearing aid in his right ear, which proved to be a priceless endorsement of hearing aids and helped boost sales to record levels. In fact, in 1983, U.S. hearing aid sales surpassed the one million mark for the first time in history.

This atmosphere of innovative technology set the stage for the establishment of a new company that would focus on the design of high-fidelity products that measure, improve and protect hearing. Armed with two and one-half degrees in mathematics, a PhD in audiology, and more than 20 years of experience in electronic component manufacturing, Mead Killion took the giant step forward to initiate his own commercial enterprise during the summer of 1983. On the introduction of a mutual friend, Mead was joined by Ed DeVilbiss, who brought a high level of sales and business acumen, both of which were invaluable to the success of the company.

When Mead and Ed established Etymotic Research, a friend remarked that starting and sustaining a business was like being on a roller coaster: Many highs and many lows, but you are strapped in and might as well enjoy the ride. Mead believes that the success of a company is never due to just one person. Etymotic is defined as much by its team players as by its founders. Mead is proud of the fact that while he participated in all developments, taught the art or mentored the individuals involved, many of Etymotic's (nearly 100) patents do not have the name Killion on them. Most projects are a complex blend of art and science. Novel ideas are as likely to germinate at the lunch table as at the boardroom table. Mead is quick to give credit to others and he takes delight in their accomplishments. Mead and Ed always advocated celebrating the small things: Etymotic has toasted a new company sign, the first $1-million month, shipping the 1000th EROSCAN, and countless other events and successes. A summer BBQ on our lawn is as meaningful as a formal holiday party.

The success of Etymotic Research is nothing short of remarkable. Etymotic Research developed insert earphones for audiometry and auditory brainstem response testing; otoacoustic emissions screening and diagnostic devices; directional and array microphones; a real-ear probe microphone for research; K-AMP and Digi-K hearing aid circuitry; Companion Mics; Musicians Earplugs; non-custom high-fidelity passive and electronic earplugs; personal noise dosimeters; a sound level meter and a direct-to-consumer personal sound amplifier. Along the way, Etymotic created an entirely new consumer electronics category: Noise-isolating, high-fidelity in-ear earphones.

Never losing sight of its mission, Etymotic Research has expanded from audiology-based products to innovative devices for the high-growth consumer electronics and telephony markets. Etymotic has almost 70 employees and many consultants and colleagues who contribute to research and product development. Etymotic is rich in relationships with passionate people from all over the globe. This amazing group shares a common goal: To make the world a better place.

Etymotic 1983-2013 - 30 Years of InnovationDownload PDF Version

30 Year Timeline