Good science, industry leadership and a lifetime of commitment. Explore the timeline of Cochlear's history of innovation.


1967 Graeme Clark

Inspired by his close relationship with his deaf father, Graeme Clark begins researching the possibilities of an electronic implantable hearing device. A young Clark (pictured in back) in Australia 1949 with his parents and younger siblings.


1967 Image of Graeme Clark with his family

1970 Dr Graeme Clark

Dr Graeme Clark is appointed Professor and Chairman, Department of Otolaryngology, The University of Melbourne.

1970 Dr Graeme Clark appointed as Professor and Chairman for Department of Otolaryngology

1977 Mona Andersson, first Baha® recipient

Mona Andersson is the first recipient of a bone conduction hearing implant (Baha) in Gothenburg, Sweden. “I remember how excited I felt after the first fitting,” Mona recalls, “because for the first time since childhood I could actually hear the birds singing".

1977 The first BAHA recipient Mona Andersson

1977 Turban shell and grass

Professor Graeme Clark receives research grant for "The Development of a Hearing Prosthesis". Professor Clark, determined to discover a way to get the electrode placed securely in the inner ear – finds a solution by experimenting with a blade of grass and a small turban shell on the Minnamurra Beach in New South Wales, Australia. He also discovers the importance of a graded stiffness in the design of the electrode

History - Turban Shell and Grass

1977 Engineers Jim Patrick and Ian Forster

Engineers Jim Patrick (left) and Ian Forster (right) present the circuit diagram for the Mastermos silicon chip designed to provide circuitry for one of the ten stimulus channels of the first bionic ear. Today Jim Patrick is a Senior Vice President and the Chief Scientist for Cochlear Ltd.

1977 Engineers Jim Patrick and Ian Forster present the circuit diagram for mastermos silicon chip

1978 Rod Saunders, first cochlear recipient

Rod Saunders was the world's first cochlear implant recipient to show the benefit of multi-channel stimulation. After his sound processor was turned on, Rod excitedly jumped up and saluted, indicating that he could hear "God Save the Queen" being played to him. It works! Clinical data from Rod's implant helps drive the cochlear implant industry.

1978 The first cochlear recipient Rod Saunders

1979 Portable speech processor

Rod Saunders uses a portable speech processor: (PSP) and handheld microphone with Richard Dowell, who is the current Head of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Melbourne.

1979 Rod Saunders uses a portable speech processor and handheld microphone with Richard Dowell

1979 Nucleus multi-channel cochlear implant

A medical device group, Nucleus, becomes interested in the potential of Professor Clark’s work. Eventually, Nucleus and Cochlear (the company was officially formed later during the early 1980’s) and the Australian Government would partner to develop a commercially available implant and bring it to market. We know it today as the Nucleus® multi-channel cochlear implant.

1979 Nucleus multi - channel cochlear implant company formed

1980 Second recipient, George Watson

Portable speech processor with magnet-less headset is created. George Watson, second recipient, spends time in programming with Joe Tong.

1980 The second cochlear recipient George Watson

1981 Paul Trainor, developer Nucleus implant

Paul Trainor is given AU$4million to start commercial development of the multi-channel cochlear implant. Trainor was the owner of the Nucleus group, which included Telectronics, an Australian heart pacemaker firm. Trainor directed the team of expert bio-engineers that would ultimately bring the Nucleus multi-channel cochlear implant to commercial market. Cochlear global headquarters established in Sydney, Australia.

1981 Paul Trainor to start commercial development of multi - channel cochlear implant

1982 First Nucleus implant

The first commercial Nucleus implant (the Nucleus CI22) was implanted at the University of Melbourne. The recipient was Graham Carrick, aged 37 years. The ability to hear again marked a life changing moment for Graham, providing him with confidence and hope. “Giving people hearing is giving them life,” he said.

1982 The first Nucleus CI22 recipient Graham Carrick

1982 Rod Saunders, processor upgrade

In 1982, three years after receiving his cochlear implant, Rod Saunders receives a new wearable speech processor (WSP).

1982 Rod Saunders upgraded with a new wearable speech processor

1984 Cochlear Americas office established

A small team establishes the Americas office outside Denver, Colorado.

1984 Cochlear office established in America

1985 FDA approves Nucleus implant system

Nucleus established as the first multi-channel cochlear implant system to obtain clearance from the FDA for use by profoundly deaf adults 18 and over. The Nucleus Mini22 implant with the WSP (Wearable Speech Processor) was the first multi-channel device to receive FDA pre-market application approval. First Nucleus cochlear implant surgery takes place in Japan.

1985 FDA approves nucleus implant system

1985-1986 First two paediatric implant recipients

The first two research paediatric cochlear implant procedures take place at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. Professor Clark keeps company with the first two paediatric cochlear implant recipients; Scott Smith on right (10 years) - first child - and Bryn Davies (five years) on left-- second child 1985. Clinical trials for cochlear implant for children begin in the US.

1985 - 1986 First two paediatric implant recipients Bryn Davies and Scott Smith US

1987 Bionic Ear Stamp

The Bionic Ear Stamp release by the Australian Postal Service. European Cochlear Office established in Basel, Switzerland in 1987 with four employees. Currently there are approximately 115 Cochlear employees in the Europe region.

1987 The bionic ear stamp released by the Australian postal service

1987 First paediatric Nucleus recipient

Holly McDonell, at the age of four, is the first paediatric recipient of a commercial Nucleus cochlear implant. She still has her original implant and has had five sound processor upgrades. “With my cochlear implant, I was able to happily attend mainstream schools and successfully achieve my own personal and career goals,” said Holly at age 26.

1987 First paediatric nucleus recipient Holly Mcdonell

1989 New mini speech processor introduced

Nucleus 22 recipients are upgraded from their original WSP to the smaller mini speech processor (MSP). New processor is much smaller and lighter than the WSP; it has the MPEAK speech coding strategy, providing improved performance; and the smaller size makes it more suitable for children.

1989 Product innovation of new mini speech processor

1989 Cochlear: Tokyo, Japan.

Cochlear opens offices in Tokyo, Japan. A few years later, in 1991, Nucleus is established as first cochlear implant system to receive approval in Japan.

1989 Cochlear opens office in Tokyo Japan

1990 US FDA approves Nucleus Cochlear Implant system for children age 2-17

The US FDA approves the Nucleus Cochlear Implant System for children aged 2 to 17 years, the first cochlear implant to be approved by a regulatory body for use in children. This milestone makes Nucleus the most widely accepted system with recipients in more than 70 countries worldwide.

1990 US FDA approves nucleus implant system for children age 2 - 17

1992 Pia Jeffrey, Cochlear implant recipient

One of the first paediatric cochlear implant recipients Pia Jeffrey is featured on the Sydney Telephone Directory. Her picture was taken by a local newspaper and captured the moment when she first heard sound – “her face lit up!” Cochlear celebrates the 5,000th Nucleus recipient.

1992 First paediatric cochlear implant recipient Pia Jeffrey Sydney

1994 10,000 recipient mark

Cochlear celebrates the 10,000th Nucleus recipient. Spectra processor upgrade for Nucleus 22 users. This utilizes SPEAK, an improved speech coding strategy providing fuller, richer, more natural sound.

1994 Cochlear celebrates the 10000th nucleus recipient

1995 Australian Stock Exchange (ASX)

Cochlear becomes successfully listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). Cochlear Ltd continues to be one of the most high profile companies in Australia.

1995 Cochlear successfully listed on the Australian stock exchange

1997-1998 Product innovation

The first implant capable of performing Neural Response Telemetry (NRT™), used to provide an objective measurement of the hearing nerve’s response to electrical stimulation (NRT). This allows medical professionals to test the hearing nerve to make sure it is functioning properly. NRT also facilitates programming of infants who are not able to provide subjective responses needed when adjusting the implant system.

1997 - 1998 The First implant capable of performing neural response telemetry

1997-1998 Product innovation

SPrint – the powerful bodyworn speech processor is introduced. SPrint™ technology is based on a powerful Digital Signal Processor (DSP). The first MRI-safe implant up to 1.5 tesla is introduced.

1997 - 1998 Product innovation of Sprint bodyworn speech processor

1998 Product innovation

The first multi-channel BTE processor introduced – the ESPrit. A speech processor worn entirely behind the ear, freeing recipients from long cables and extra components. This innovation eventually benefits the first cochlear implant recipients, giving them option of the smaller behind the ear model.

1998 Product Innovation of first multi - channel BTE processor - ESPrit

1998 Product innovation

Nucleus 24 cochlear implant released. The new implant offers technical advancements including an electrode designed to provide more direct stimulation. Also includes the removable magnet for MRI and the Nucleus standard titanium casing. 20,000th person receives a Nucleus cochlear implant.

1998 Product innovation of Nucleus 24 cochlear implant

1999-2000 ACE speech coding strategy introduced

Nucleus ACE speech coding strategy is developed and introduced by the engineers at Cochlear. ACE is designed to customise sounds by combining the benefits of pitch information of the SPEAK strategy, with the higher rates of stimulation offered by the CIS strategy. The result is an advanced strategy that can be customised to meet each person's hearing needs.

1999 - 2000 Nucleus ACE speech coding strategy is introduced

2000 Product innovation

The Nucleus 24 Contour perimodiolar electrode array is introduced and receives the Australian Design Award.. Judges said it was "an outstanding example of innovative design and development which makes a major contribution to improving people's quality of life around the world.”

2000 Product innovation of Nucleus 24 Contour perimodiolar electrode array

2000 The ESPrit™ 22 BTE speech processor released

The fourth upgrade for Nucleus 22 recipients. Sets industry standard of a Lifetime Commitment in providing a BTE option for recipients implanted many years before.

2000 ESPrit 22 BTE speech processor is released

2000 Queen Elizabeth II visits the Bionic Ear Institute

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh make a visit to the Bionic Ear Institute in Melbourne Australia. Her Majesty is interested in learning about the cochlear implants, and is introduced to several recipients, including Bryn Davies, who was the second paediatric recipient in 1986.

2000 Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh visit the Bionic Ear Institute Melbourne

2001 Baha Softband recipient

Marije Meijer, at age four months, was one of the first Baha Softband recipients. The Baha Softband received FDA approval in 2002. Marije’s parents are so happy with her progress and explain, “We have seen a huge difference in the way Marije responds to us and to her surroundings since she has been wearing the Baha Softband.”

2001 The first BAHA softband recipient Marije Meijer

2001 30,000 Nucleus recipients mark

Cochlear celebrates their 30,000th Nucleus recipient. BJ Perez of San Antonio, Texas at the Houston Ear Research Foundation. Cochlear was honored for the outstanding design of the Nucleus® 24 Contour™ cochlear implant. The award was presented to Cochlear at the prestigious 2001 Medical Design Excellence Awards in New York City.

2001 Cochlear celebrates 30000 nucleus recipients mark

2002 Product innovation

Nucleus® 24 Contour Advance™ is introduced. Unique Softip feature designed to protect the delicate cochlea structures. The Softip takes the science behind the Contour to the next level. The Contour Advance is Cochlear’s premier implant and continues to be introduced worldwide.

2002 Product innovation of Nucleus 24 Contour Advance

2002 Product Innovation

ESPrit 3G introduced as part of the new Nucleus 3 system. The new behind-the-ear speech processor is compatible with the Nucleus 24 and Contour implants. ESPrit 3G is the first speech processor with an in-built telecoil, making phone use more accessible.

2002 Product innovation of ESPrit 3G as part of new Nucleus 3 system

2002 Baha® system approved to treat single-sided deafness in the USA

“Baha makes it effortless to hear at work” says Anne-Marie. “Now, since I have no ‘bad side’ I’m able to be more active and involved in discussions. And I never miss a joke!”

2002 BAHA system approved to treat single-sided deafness in USA

2002 Heather Whitestone, Miss America

Heather Whitestone McCallum becomes a Nucleus recipient. She is the first woman with a disability to be crowned Miss America (1995). In 2004 she visited with students at the Mount View State School in Victoria, Australia who like herself have a Nucleus cochlear implant.

2002 Miss America Heather Whitestone McCallum becomes a nucleus recipient

2002 Graeme Clark Scholarship introduced

The Graeme Clark Scholarship aims to support cochlear implant recipients who wish to further their education with university studies. The first winner in Australia was Holly McDonnell, who in 1987 at the age of four was the first paediatric recipient of the commercial Nucleus cochlear implant.

2002 Graeme Clark scholarship introduced to the cochlear implant recipients for further education

2003 Professor Clark receives award

Professor Clark becomes an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. He takes his place among other scientists including Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin and Louis Pasteur.

2003 Professor Clark receives award and becomes an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Melbourne

2003-2004 New ESPrit 3G for Nucleus 22

New ESPrit 3G for Nucleus 22 gives earliest recipients to the latest speech processor technology. This processor is the fifth upgrade for the earliest Nucleus recipients. Cochlear reaches more than 60,000 Nucleus recipients worldwide - more than any other cochlear implant manufacturer.

2003 - 2001 New ESPrit 3G for Nucleus 22 gives earliest recipients to the lastest speech processor technology

2005 Product innovation

Nucleus® Freedom® system released. Offers input processing technologies designed to emulate natural hearing and is the industry’s first water resistant sound processor.

2005 Product innovation of nucleus freedom with smart sound

2005 Baha Divino® released

Advanced digital sound processing and built in directional microphone for focused listening.

2005 BAHA Divino released

2007 Baha Intenso® released

Advanced digital signal processing, extra power and reduced size.

2007 BAHA Intenso released

2008 Nucleus Freedom available for Nucleus 22 implant recipients

Freedom is compatible with all previous Nucleus generation implants, giving recipients access to the latest hearing innovations.

2008 Nucleus Freedom available for Nucleus22 implant recipients

2008 Cochlear Hybrid™

Combines both cochlear implant and hearing aid technologies to overcome high frequency loss. High frequency sounds are sent to the cochlea via the implant. Simultaneously, low frequency sounds are amplified and sent through the ear canal via the acoustic (hearing aid) component.

2008 Cochlear Hybrid with the acoustic component for high frequency loss

2008 Hybrid L24 Implant

Specifically designed for sufferers of high frequency hearing loss. The Hybrid implant bypasses damaged hair cells in the high frequency hearing zone to provide recipients access to high frequency sounds which are vital for understanding speech.

2008 Hybrid L24 implant designerd for high frequency hearing loss

2009 Cochlear Nucleus 5 System released

Latest cochlear implant system, introducing the CP810 sound processor and the first ever remote assistant.

2009 Cochelear Nucleus 5 system released

2009 Cochlear Baha 3 released

Baha BP100 Sound Processor more than 25% improved speech understanding in noise compared to previous Baha sound processors.

2009 BAHA 3 released

2010 Oldest cochlear implant recipient at 102 years old

In 1991, at age 83, Jack Walley received his Nucleus® 22 implant at the University Hospital Birmingham, UK. Jack’s daughter Pat says: “The cochlear implant changed his life completely. Dad has always been keen on music and electronics – mending televisions and radios was his hobby. Once he found out about cochlear implants, there was no stopping him from having one.”

2010 The oldest cochlear implant recipient at 102 year old

2010 Cochlear Baha 3 BI300 implant

First bone conduction implant to utilise an advanced surface technology (TiOblast™), which can reduce the time it takes for the implant to bond with bone. This allows the recipient to access sound sooner.

2010 Cochlear BAHA 3 BI300 Implant

Cochlear, Nucleus, Freedom, Hybrid, Softip, ESPrit, Sprint, Contour and Contour Advance are trademarks or registered trademarks of Cochlear Limited.

Baha, Divino and Intenso are registered trademarks of Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions.