Prototype wearable speech processor for cochlear implant system

Made by Patrick, Jim in University of Melbourne (place), 1979-1980.

This object, together with ‘gold box’ prototype cochlear implant, documents a critical step in the development of Australian research that has had continued impact around the world. This research, led by Dr Graeme Clark in the 1970s, formed the basis of Cochlear Ltd, an Australian company which became an international leader in the manufacture and sale of cochlear implant systems. By 2010 over 200 000 people in more than 100 countries had received the implant, which enables profoundly deaf peopl...


Object No.


Physical Description

Prototype wearable speech processor for cochlear implant system, 'Speech processor PSP-1' with headset, microphone and leather case, mixed materials, designed and made at the University of Melbourne Department of Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1979-1980

Consists of a portable speech processor with a cable connecting to a headset containing the transmitter coil. A separate hand-held microphone and leather carry case is included.



Designed by Dr Peter Seligman and Jim Patrick, Department of Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery, University of Melbourne 1979-1980. This was the first portable speech processor as part of the cochlear implant system developed by Dr Graeme Clark.

This headset was a progression from using a 'tennis player' style headband to keep the transmittor coil in place, as was first used in the laboratory setting. The microphone was a standard microphone, used to demonstrate the idea that it could be portable and used in daily life. The speech processing system later developed for the clinical trial in 1982 used a more flexible headband, with a microphone attached to the headband rather than being hand held.


Patrick, Jim 1979-1980



Prior to the development of this portable speech processor, the first cochlear implant test patients, Rod Saunders and George Watson, had to be connected to a large laboratory computer to be able to hear sound. This was the first portable version of the speech processor and one of two used by Rod Saunders and George Watson, the two test patients, to demonstrate the cochlear implant speech processing strategy at a media conference in 1980.

'It was a very important step, and this step had not been done elsewhere overseas. There were some people putting plug and sockets on a few test people for multichannel stimulation. The only aerials or inductive coupling that were being done overseas in the (United) States were for single electrode systems which didn't really give much understanding for speech. And didn't promise much for speech understanding as a communication aid. So that is why the need for this coil, this prototype rather than plugs and sockets.' *

*Professor Graeme Clark, Powerhouse Museum interview 6 Dec 2010


Credit Line

Gift of Professor Graeme Clark and the University of Melbourne, 2011

Acquisition Date

28 February 2011

Cite this Object


Prototype wearable speech processor for cochlear implant system 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 21 October 2018, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Prototype wearable speech processor for cochlear implant system |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=21 October 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Experimentations at the Powerhouse Museum.


This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.

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