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Founder of Koss Corp., creator of world's first Stereophone, dies at 91

Koss Corporation is headquartered in Milwaukee
John C. Koss
Posted at 4:25 PM, Dec 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-22 17:36:12-05

MILWAUKEE — John C. Koss, founder and former chairman of Koss Corporation, died Tuesday at the age of 91.

Koss Corporation, headquartered in Milwaukee, is a consumer electronics company Koss created in 1953 initially to rent television sets to hospital patients, officials said.

Koss and his partner, Martin Lange, Jr., developed the world's first high fidelity Stereophone in 1958, the company said.

Koss Corporation
Koss Corporation's headquarters on Port Washington Road in Milwaukee.

Koss, also a musician, is noted for sparking the creation of the global stereo headphone industry.

“Dad loved music and the experience of a live performance,” Michael J. Koss, Chairman and CEO of Koss Corporation, 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.” 

Officials say Koss developed the Pro/4 Series, which became a recording industry standard, as well as the official headphones of Air Force One. According to Koss Corporation, he helped standardize the plug and headphone jack that is used today.

“As a member of the reserve Air National Guard, it’s safe to say, one of Dad’s proudest moments in business was when Koss Stereophones became part of the Air Force One in-flight entertainment system,” Michael Koss continued.

Koss later on went to create the Koss Porta Pro, a "portable" headphone for on-the-go listening.

“Dad was a music lover that pushed hard to maintain the ‘Sound of Koss.’ He always wanted to bring people closer to the music they loved. It’s why he coined the Koss tagline ‘Hearing is Believing’.”

Koss is a graduate of Riverside High School, and served as director and Chairman of Junior Achievement of Southeastern Wisconsin and as a director of the Milwaukee School of Engineering where he received the Pioneer Award in 1980, according to Koss Corporation. He also received an honorary Doctor of Engineering Degree in 1983. Officials say he also served on the board of several charitable organizations and stepped in during the 1970s to purchase and save Milwaukee’s only classical radio station, WFMR.

Officials say Koss and the company contributed to the Medical College of Wisconsin to develop the Koss Hearing and Balance Center, along with the Koss Cochlear Implant program in the 1980s.

Koss received an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Seymour Cray Award for Distinction in Technology presented by The Wisconsin Historical Society in 2007, the company said.

“Ask anyone who knew my father, and they’ll tell you he was one of a kind. He distinguished himself as an eternal optimist that never let anything stand in his way. We’re all proud of his achievements, not just with the Koss Corporation, but through the contributions he’s made helping others. John C. Koss made the world a better place. We’ll miss him dearly.”

Koss has been inducted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame, The Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame, and the Audio Hall of Fame. 

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