William F. House

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William Fouts House (December 1, 1923 in Kansas City, Missouri – December 7, 2012 in Aurora, Oregon) was an American otologist, physician and medical researcher who developed and invented the cochlear implant.[1][2] The cochlear implant is considered to be the first invention to restore not just the sense of hearing, but any of the absent five senses in humans.[1] Dr. House also pioneered approaches to the lateral skull base for removal of tumors, and is considered "the Father of Neurotology."[3][4]

William F. House, MD


House was born on December 1, 1923, in Kansas City, Missouri, and moved to Whittier, California, when he was three years old.[1] House completed pre-dental degrees at Whittier College and the University of Southern California.[1] He then enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, where he received a doctorate in dentistry.[1] House next earned a medical degree from the University of Southern California after two years in the U.S. Navy.[1] His older half brother, Howard P. House, was also a physician and was focused on otology, founding the House Ear Institute (later renamed the House Research Institute) in 1946. William House eventually adopted the same focus.[2]

House was heavily criticized by physicians and surgeons during much of his career. Many believed his idea of a device to electrically stimulate the ear would never work. Today, however, he is generally regarded as a hero, in that his innovative research and development led to the creation of the modern cochlear implant.[5]

House's first design for a cochlear implant was surgically implanted in 1961,[6] but the implant was rejected by the patient's body. A longer-lasting model was developed and successfully implanted in 1969, and it was introduced commercially in 1972.[1]

One of his patients was astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr., first American and the second person in space in 1961, and, thanks to Dr. House, 5th man to walk on the Moon in 1971 following a procedure he performed on him for Meniere's disease.

House died on December 7, 2012, at his home in Aurora, Oregon, at the age of 89.[2][7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Martin, Douglas (December 15, 2012). "Dr. William F. House, Inventor of Pioneering Ear-Implant Device, Dies at 89". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  2. ^ a b c Woo, Elaine (December 12, 2012). "Dr. William F. House dies at 89; championed cochlear implant". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-12-19.
  3. ^ Berliner, Karen I. (1 February 2013). "In Memoriam: William F. House, DDS, MD, the "Father of Neurotology" (1923-2012)". JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery. 139 (2): 202. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2013.51. ISSN 2168-6181.
  4. ^ Beck, Douglas. "News | Audiology". www.audiology.org. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  5. ^ Denworth, Lydia (2014). I Can Hear You Whisper: An Intimate Journey through the Science of Sound and Language. USA: Penguin Group. pp. 89–90. ISBN 978-0-525-95379-1.
  6. ^ Mudry, Albert; Mills, Mara (2013). "The early history of the cochlear implant: a retrospective". JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery. 139 (5): 446–453. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2013.293. ISSN 2168-619X. PMID 23681026.
  7. ^ "Dr. William House, who invented the cochlear implant, dies in Oregon". The Oregonian. Portland, Oregon. December 15, 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-19.

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