Remembering A Pioneer in Stereo Headphones


He’s the creator of the world’s first stereophone. Now, audiophiles and broadcasting industry professionals are paying tribute to the musician, inventor and entrepreneur who in 1953 launched an electronics company originally designed as a TV rental business for hospitals.

John C. Koss, the founder and Chairman of Koss Corporation, died on December 21, 2021. He was 91 years old. News of death first became widely known last week.

Five years after launching his business, Koss, at the age of 28, teamed with business partner Martin Lange Jr., by introducing personal listening to the world.

How so? They developed the world’s first high fidelity “Stereophone.” This product, the SP/3 Stereophone, sparked the creation of the global stereo headphone industry. 

Today, Koss remains a family-run operation, with Michael J. Koss serving as Chairman/CEO. “Dad loved music and the experience of a live performance,” he said. “Like many legendary entrepreneurs, our founder channeled his passion to create a revolutionary product. Today, it’s clear that his innovation changed the way the world listens to music.” 

After introducing the SP/3 Stereophone, Koss developed the Pro/4 Series, which became a recording industry standard — and the official headphones of Air Force One. He went on to help standardize the plug and headphone jack we take for granted today.

By the 1980s, an era when the SONY Walkman dominated personal listening, John Koss pushed his company to develop “portable” headphones for on-the-go listening. The result was the Koss Porta Pro, a collapsible headphone that remains available today.

Outside of Koss Corporation, John Koss was important to Radio. In the 1970s, he purchased the original Classical WFMR-FM 96.5 in Milwaukee, saving the format in the market.  He owned the facility until 1983; today it is WKLH. The sale prompted WFMR’s call sign and format relocation to 98.3 MHz.