It seems a bit odd that a decision by one company to change a piece of their hardware could have such a wide-ranging effect. However, Apple’s decision to pull the cord on the aux jack could change the future of headphones as we know it.
The headphone jack actually started right here in Milwaukee. John Koss pioneered and standardized the use of the headphone jack across the world. So, in a way, removing the headphone jack is the end of an era.
“In reality my grandfather is the one responsible for standardizing the aux headphone jacks on hardware,” says Michael Koss, Vice President of Marketing and Product at Koss Corporation. “When he introduced the world first SP3 Stereo-phone in 1958, zero record players had a headphone jack. People had to take the thing apart if they wanted to connect them. So that was one of the biggest challenges early on. He got the headphone jack to be standardized. So it’s something the goes down with the history of our brand.”
Koss has been a worldwide manufacturer of headphones since 1958, almost 20 years before Apple was founded. Seeing it’s industry changing due to Apple’s decision may seem a bit like the tail wagging the dog.
According to Leda Hoffmann, the Rep’s director of community engagement, the inspiration came from attending a discussion on privilege at the Zeidler Center.
“I was really excited by the depth of conversation we were able to have in my group using the Zeidler Center’s methods,” she says. “The Rep decided to work with the Zeidler Center to have facilitated dialogues after every performance of American Song [the Rep’s production last spring]. We had great responses to this new style of conversation after the play.”
The theater began the conversation with a simple fill-in-the-blank: “Let’s Talk Identity Because ___.” Here is how various artists at the Rep responded: