Adam Kissiah: Inventor of the Implantable Hearing Device

Welcome to This website is dedicated to sharing the story of Adam Kissiah, the original inventor of the implantable hearing device. Browse through the pages of this site to learn about Adam’s invention, which went on to become the Cochlear Implant.

Adam Kissiah was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and graduated from Oakhurst High School (Charlotte) in May, 1947. After one year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Adam joined the U.S. NAVY in July, 1949 and remained until March, 1953 (Korean War, honorably discharged).

After discharge from the Navy, Adam returned to school at Charlotte College, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC where he earned a B.S. in Physics in 1956.

From September 1956 to April 1963, Adam was employed by RCA Service Co. and Pan American World Airways at Patrick AFB/Cape Canaveral (Missile Test Division) as Electronic Tracking Systems Engineer supporting Redstone, Jupiter, Mercury, Pershing, and Minuteman rocket Programs).

In April, 1963, he was employed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), at Kennedy Space Center, FL. And assigned duties as launch instrumentation systems engineer. He served in various capacities such as section chief, staff engineer, and as contract technical manager/representative in launch instrumentation and data systems operation and management.

He supported Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Apollo Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz test project (ASTP), and shuttle programs through November, 1989.

During his employment with NASA, he applied for a patent through NASA / Kennedy Space Center (KSC) patent counsel (James O. Harrell) for the patent of an electronic digital hearing aid, United States Patent # 4,063,048, awarded Dec 13,1977, re-issued (#31,031) Sep 14, 1982.

The patent is considered the first patentable design for digital electronic stimulation of the acoustic nerve in humans. Principles are currently being used in human implantation for hearing restoration in profoundly deaf patients throughout the U.S., and many other countries around the world.

Adam retired from NASA – Dec 02, 1989

More About Adam

Adam is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), Canaveral Section, Florida, a member of the American Legion, and is a current member of the board of directors of the New Abilities Federation, Chicago, Ill.


  • December 2001 – Adam Kissiah was awarded the IEEE Electrotechnology Transfer Award for contributions in the fields of aerospace instrumentation, including developing principles of the Cochlear implant device.
  • October 2002 – NASA recognized that Adam Kissiah invented the Implantable Hearing Device by awarding him with the prestigious NASA Space Act Award. The award included a signed certificate from NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe and $21,000, the largest monetary award ever given to a single inventor in Kennedy’s history.
  • April 10, 2003 – The Space Technology Hall of Fame recognized that Adam Kissiah invented the implantable hearing device and inducted Adam as a member.
  • July 30, 2004 – The World Ability Federation recognized that Adam Kissiah invented the implantable hearing device. The Federation presented him with the World Ability Award for his outstanding contribution.

In the midst of the recognition surrounding his invention, Adam Kissiah has remained extremely humble about his role.  “Regardless of what level of participation I had, it is nice to know I contributed to making many lives better,” he said.

More Information

See Adam Kissiah’s patent for the cochlear implant at Implantable Electronic Hearing Aid – United States Patent # 4,063,048

See also, Adam’s paper on the History of the Cochlear Implant. and The IEC IEEE Challenge – Impact of Cochlear Implant Electrotechnlogy.

Questions and Comments

If you have any questions about how Adam Kissiah invented the Implantable Hearing Device, please send an email to [email protected] or post a message below.