5 Popular Invention Mashups

Noise-cancelling Headphones

It's hard to believe that just over 50 years ago, a device that dangles from nearly everyone's ears today didn't even exist.

It wasn't until 1958 that two men -- John Koss and Martin Lange -- teamed up to create a record player that you could listen to with a pair of headphones. Devices for private listening had existed since the early 1900s, but they were primarily used for business applications. Interestingly, Koss and Lange's record player wasn't well received, but the headphones were. This sparked off an industry that would let kids around the country drown out the voices of their parents for decades to come.

The next major innovation in headphone development began when Dr. Amar Bose, the founder of the famous audio company that bears his name, flew from the U.S. to Europe in 1978 and realized that he couldn't enjoy the music from his headphones due to the steady roar of the airplane engines. The solution? A mashup that combined headphone technology with noise-cancelling technology. The headphones, which were released in 1988, work the same way all active noise-cancelling 'phones work today -- they not only receive sound waves from an audio device, but they transmit them, as well. Thanks to tiny microphones in each ear cup, ambient sound can be analyzed and then neutralized by a mirror-image sound wave transmitted from the headphones. It's a mashup responsible for many peaceful flights.

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