Our Timeline

At MED-EL, our pioneering spirit and passion for discovery has been going strong for more than 40 years. We’re proud to be the innovation leader, with technological breakthroughs and one-of-a-kind developments coming year after year. 

1975

The Beginning

The Beginning

Ingeborg and Erwin Hochmair begin developing cochlear implants at the Technical University of Vienna.

1977

1977 WORLD'S FIRST

First Modern Cochlear Implant

First Modern Cochlear Implant

The world's first microelectronic multi-channel cochlear implant in Vienna. It had 8 channels, a stimulation rate of 10.000 pulses per second per channel, 8 independent current sources, and a flexible electrode for 22-25mm insertion into the cochlea.

Prof. Kurt Burian (1924-1996)

Prof. Kurt Burian (1924-1996)

Implanted the first multichannel microelectronic cochlear implant at the ENT University Clinic in Vienna on December 16th 1977. He inserted the flexible electrode through the round window into the scala tympani.

1978

1978

6- and 4-channel implant variants

6- and 4-channel implant variants

6- and 4-channel implant variants

The 4-channel implant was used for simultaneous stimulation.

1979

1979

Early Success

Early Success

C.K., received a 4-channel implant in August 1979 and a small portable processor a few weeks later. She spent many hours in the test lab at the Technical University of Vienna where a number of speech coding strategies and stimulation field configurations were tested for fundamental research on nerve stimulation.

Fine Tuning

Fine Tuning

Fitting of the speech processor to the characteristics of the patient's electrical hearing in terms of frequency shaping and amplitude compression turned out to be essential for the quality of speech understanding (Erwin Hochmair and a patient).

Sound Optimisation

Sound Optimisation

Many speech perception tests were performed to optimise the settings (Ingeborg Hochmair and patient S.O.).

1980

1980 WORLD'S FIRST

Understanding Speech

Understanding Speech

In the fall of 1979 C.K. received this small body-worn speech processor. It was modified in March 1980 at which time C.K. became the first person to show open set speech understanding without lip-reading using a portable processor. She has been enjoying sound-only speech understanding from a portable processor since then.

1982

1982

Further Development

Further Development

This Cochlear Implant System consists of a signal-transparent 4-channel implant driving a long intra-cochlear 4-channel flexible electrode and a small single-channel speech processor. The system implements a broadband analogue speech coding strategy to be used on the best-suited channel.

1985

1985

Getting Together

Getting Together

Implant users exchange their experiences in Vienna.

1986

1986

Moving to Innsbruck

The Hochmairs and their startup company MED-EL move to Innsbruck.

1989

1989

Comfort CI System

Comfort CI System

Comfort CI System

Introduction of the Comfort CI System: The new implant electronics and coils are now encased in one (2-channel system) or two (4-channel system) hermetically sealed ceramic housings. The new speech processor features an ear-level microphone.

Over the years around 700 adults and children received this system, including the early variant with pacemaker epoxy encapsulation.

The majority of these recipients are now using contemporary implants and enjoy further improved speech understanding.

 

1990

1990

First Employees

MED-EL hires its first employees.

1991

1991 WORLD'S FIRST

First BTE Audio Processor

First BTE Audio Processor

MED-EL launches the world's first BTE (behind-the-ear) speech processor. It provides the same speech understanding as the body-worn speech processor. 

WORLD'S FIRST

First CAP Implant

First CAP Implant

M.H. is the first to receive an implant that combines analogue and pulsatile stimulation.

1994

1994 WORLD'S FIRST

COMBI 40 System

COMBI 40 System

COMBI 40 System

The implant system COMBI 40 is launched. It is the world's first multichannel high-rate CI, an 8-channel system designed to faithfully implement Blake Wilson's CIS speech coding strategy with high stimulation rate.
It comprises a 31 mm long flexible electrode for coverage of the entire length of the cochlea.

1995

1995

Excellent Results

Excellent Results

Multicentre study results with the implant COMBI 40 in post-lingually deaf adults demonstrate for the first time that more than half of the patient population reached a monosyllabic word understanding higher than 50% after only 6 months. This means that these patients can talk to someone unknown to them about an unknown topic over the telephone. 

The CIS PRO+ Processor

The CIS PRO+ Processor

The CIS PRO+ Processor is introduced.

CIS LINK

CIS LINK

Out of humanitarian reasons an addition to the CIS PRO+, the CIS LINK system, is developed to provide the CIS strategy to Ineraid recipients who had received percutaneous plug CI systems by another company which discontinued further development.

1996

1996 WORLD'S FIRST

Introduction of the COMBI 40+

Introduction of the COMBI 40+

The thinnest cochlear implant available. It provides up to 50,000 pulses per second and is a miniaturised multichannel implant (4 mm thin).

 
WORLD'S FIRST

First Bilateral Implantation

Bilateral implantation for the purpose of binaural hearing is started by Profs. Jan Helms and Joachim Müller at the University of Würzburg using MED-EL implants.
 

1997

1997

More Surgical Options for Rare Cases

More Surgical Options for Rare Cases

More Surgical Options for Rare Cases

Introduction of the COMBI 40+ with split electrode for cases of cochlear ossification; based on a suggestion by Swedish surgeon Goran Bredberg.
The MED-EL Auditory Brainstem Implant is introduced for the first time. The ABI allows people without a functioning auditory nerve and NF2 to access sound.

1998

1998 WORLD'S FIRST

First Bilateral Child

First Bilateral Child

Profs. Jan Helms and Joachim Müller start with bilateral cochlear implantation in children. M.R. becomes the world's first bilaterally implanted child when his second ear is implanted at the age of 4 in 1998 (his first ear was implanted in 1996).

1999

1999 WORLD'S FIRST

TEMPO+ BTE Audio Processor

TEMPO+ BTE Audio Processor

Launch of the TEMPO+ Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Speech Processor.
It consumes 90% less power than the body-worn processor.
A multicentre study demonstrates speech perception results superior to the body-worn processor.
The TEMPO+ is the first processor to have a modular design allowing different wearing options.
Modular BTE processor design makes the body-worn processor obsolete.

2003

2003 WORLD'S FIRST

VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE

VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE

Acquisition of VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE, the first active middle ear implant system for mild-to-severe sensorineural hearing loss.
Geoffrey Ball, the inventor of the VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE, moves to Innsbruck and becomes CTO of VIBRANT MED-EL.

2004

2004

PULSAR Cochlear Implant

PULSAR Cochlear Implant

Launch of the PULSAR Cochlear Implant, providing future-ready electronics in an optimised ceramic housing.

2005

2005 WORLD'S FIRST

First EAS System

First EAS System

First EAS System

Introduction of the DUET Speech Processor, the world's first processor to integrate cochlear implant speech processing and acoustic stimulation in one compact device.
The EAS System is the world's first hearing implant system for combined acoustic and electric stimulation. Electric acoustic stimulation (EAS) is a concept that was started by Prof. Christoph von Ilberg with his first EAS patient successfully implanted in 2000.

2006

2006

Driving Innovation

Driving Innovation

Driving Innovation

The next generation of cochlear implant systems is launched. The OPUS Audio Processor has a sleek, switch-free design; the titanium SONATA Cochlear Implant offers exceptional reliability; FLEX electrode arrays help protect natural hearing structures; and FineHearing technology provides more natural sound perception.

2007

2007

DaCapo Rechargeable Battery System

DaCapo Rechargeable Battery System

The DaCapo system is launched for OPUS 2, allowing users to power their processor with rechargeable DaCapo PowerPacks.

2008

2008

Expanding Treatment

VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE receives the CE mark for an expanded range of candidacy, including conductive and mixed hearing loss.

2009

2009

Second Generation EAS

Second Generation EAS

The DUET 2 EAS Audio Processor is launched. This second generation EAS audio processor combines acoustic amplification and cochlear implant stimulation, bringing sound to people with high-frequency hearing loss.

Amadé for SOUNDBRIDGE

Amadé for SOUNDBRIDGE

Amadé, a compact new audio processor for the VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE, is launched for use with both children and adults. 

2010

2010

MAESTRO CI System

MAESTRO CI System

MED-EL launches the new MAESTRO Cochlear Implant System. MAESTRO features the OPUS 2 Audio Processor and the CONCERTO Cochlear Implant.

CONCERTO ABI

CONCERTO ABI

The CONCERTO Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI) is introduced. This enables people without a functioning auditory nerve to perceive sound using the latest hearing technology.

2011

2011

FLEX Electrode Arrays

FLEX Electrode Arrays

The new FLEX 28 Electrode Array is introduced. It’s made for better structure and hearing preservation, to provide superior hearing performance.

Vibroplasty Couplers for VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE

Vibroplasty Couplers for VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE

New couplers for the VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE give surgeons even more flexibility with the middle ear implant.

Mini Battery Pack

The Mini Battery Pack, a compact, body-worn device, is launched for OPUS 2. This allows OPUS 2 to be powered by a AAA battery or DaCapo PowerPack.

2012

2012 WORLD'S FIRST

First Active Bone Conduction Implant

First Active Bone Conduction Implant

Launch of BONEBRIDGE, the world’s first active bone conduction implant system that leaves the skin intact.

Smallest & Lightest Audio Processor

Smallest & Lightest Audio Processor

The OPUS 2 audio processor is upgraded with the XS Battery Pack, making it the smallest and lightest BTE audio processor.

2013

2013 WORLD'S FIRST

RONDO Single-Unit Processor

RONDO Single-Unit Processor

Just put it on and go: RONDO is the first single-unit cochlear implant audio processor. The all-in-one design combines the control unit, cable, and coil into one compact single unit.

WORLD'S FIRST

FORM Electrode Arrays

FORM Electrode Arrays

FORM Electrode Arrays are introduced. FORM arrays are designed to give surgeons better control during surgery on malformed cochleae.
WORLD'S FIRST

First for SSD

First for SSD

MED-EL CI systems are the first CIs approved for treating single-sided deafness in both adults and children.

WORLD'S FIRST

AUDIOVERSUM Opens

AUDIOVERSUM Opens

MED-EL opens its own ScienceCenter, AUDIOVERSUM, in Innsbruck, Austria. With its interactive, multimedia exhibitions, visitors can discover the wonders of hearing, and take part in a range of special events and workshops.

 

2014

2014

SYNCHRONY CI System

SYNCHRONY CI System

MED-EL continues to drive innovation with the SYNCHRONY Cochlear Implant System.

The SYNCHRONY Cochlear Implant offers unparalleled MRI safety at 3.0 Tesla. This means that for the first time ever, a cochlear implant recipient can benefit from high-resolution MRI scans without pain or discomfort, or the need for a surgical procedure.

The splash-proof SONNET Audio Processor with Automatic Sound Management 2.0 enables recipients to hear effortlessly in any environment.

SOUNDBRIDGE (VORP 503) and SAMBA

SOUNDBRIDGE (VORP 503) and SAMBA

VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE (VORP 503) is upgraded for offering improved ease-of-use. Along with the new Vibroplasty Couplers, surgeons have increased flexibility when implanting SOUNDBRIDGE. The new implant is also MRI Conditional at 1.5 Tesla.

SAMBA is released as the latest audio processor for SOUNDBRIDGE and BONEBRIDGE.

2015

2015

New Child-Friendly Features

The new DL-Coil makes SONNET even easier for parents to use. With the link-check function, parents can see at a glance if SONNET is correctly connected, and a locking design provides additional security.  

Lightest Audio Processor

Lightest Audio Processor

With the new Micro Rechargeable Battery, SONNET is the lightest audio processor available. The new batteries give recipients flexible power choices for their SONNET.

2017

2017

Lightest and Smallest Wearing Option

Lightest and Smallest Wearing Option

ActiveWear, the lightest and smallest wearing option available, is released for SONNET, along with BabyWear. Both make SONNET more comfortable and secure for babies, children, and active adults.

Wireless Connectivity for SONNET

Wireless Connectivity for SONNET

The Roger 21™ from Phonak is launched for SONNET. It allows SONNET users to use Roger wireless microphones and connect to their phone, TV, and other devices.

roger by Phonak

WORLD'S FIRST

ADHEAR Bone Conduction System

ADHEAR Bone Conduction System

The novel, non-surgical ADHEAR hearing system revolutionises the concept of bone conduction for people with conductive hearing loss and single-sided deafness.

WORLD'S FIRST

RONDO 2 Audio Processor

RONDO 2 Audio Processor

RONDO 2 is launched. RONDO 2 is the first cochlear implant audio processor which can be charged wirelessly, making it incredibly simple to use.

Expanded Indication for ABI

Expanded Indication for ABI

The candidacy for ABI is expanded to include children from 12 months who can't benefit from a cochlear implant due to non-functional auditory nerves. This means that more people than ever can benefit from an ABI.
Today

building

Looking Forward

Today, our dedicated research & development continues to drive discovery and innovation in the field of hearing and beyond. The future holds so much potential, and we're excited to be at the forefront of incredible breakthroughs and leaps in technology.

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