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Are Headphones Computers? 3 Surprising Facts (2023)

Are Headphones Computers

Headphones can also make calls, launch apps, and activate AIs like PCs.

So it’s not rare to wonder if these audio devices are also considered computers.

With that said…

I’ll share several facts about PCs and headphones that can answer this mystery. 

Keep reading to discover:

  • Whether or not headphones are computers.
  • 3 key differences between headsets and PCs.
  • 3 surprising facts about headphones and computers. 
  • And much, much more… 

Are headphones computers?

Headphones aren’t computers. While both PCs and headsets are electronic devices, they don’t operate similarly. That’s because headphones are output devices that send data from a source to a user. Meanwhile, a computer is a device that stores and processes data.

Headphones and computers – 3 surprising facts

#1: Headphones weren’t invented for music

When someone’s wearing headphones, the first thing that comes to mind is:

“I wonder what song he/she is listening to?”

But did you know that the first pair of headsets weren’t even meant for music?

See, way before MP3s or Spotify accounts even existed…

In 1881, headphones were used by phone operators for work and not entertainment. 

And unlike the models we see now, these devices used to look very different. 

That’s because…

Headphones in the late 1800s had 3 unique features:

They only had a single earpiece

Modern headphones now come in different types: 

  • In-ear buds.
  • Over-ear headsets. 
  • On-ear headphones.

However, regardless of which model you get…

You’ll expect your device to cover both your ears, right?

But interestingly enough, the first few pair of headset models only had a 1-ear piece.

With that, operators back then didn’t have the comfort of placing their headphones on their heads.

That’s because they consistently had to balance a heavier device on 1 side. 

They were placed over the shoulders

Headphones used to be way bulkier in the 1800s than they are now.

See, even the microphones of the earliest models were bigger than modern DSLR cameras.

That said, phone operators needed to place their headsets on their shoulders. All so they can keep the device’s earpiece close to their ears.

They weighed over 10 pounds

Headphone companies now are consistently releasing lighter and smaller headsets. 

However, it’s worth mentioning that it wasn’t always this way. 

That’s because the headphones used by phone operators in the 1800s were heavier than 10 pounds. And that’s more or less the weight of a vacuum cleaner. 

Can you imagine wearing a headset that heavy? 

Fun fact: These headphones were created by an inventor names Ezra Gilliland. And he also invented the telephone switchboard. 

#2: Headphones and computers weren’t always portable

The must-have travel items of the 21st century include a:

  • Laptop.
  • Pair of headphones.

However, PCs and headphones weren’t always portable devices. 

See, ENIAC, the first computer in the world, weighed a hefty 27 tons. And its surface area was 1800 feet squared. 

That’s comparable to the weight of the biggest fire trucks. And its size was as big as ⅓ of a standard basketball court.

Similarly, headphones were only meant for indoor use. That’s because, as mentioned earlier, they were heavy and bulky devices. And they weighed 15x more than modern headsets do now. 

That being said, you’re most likely wondering: 

“Then, when did computers and headphones become portable?” 

And to answer that… 

The first portable-like computer was the IBM 5100 model. And it was released in September of 1975. 

Now, this device still weighed 55-pounds which isn’t that light to be carried around. 

But it’s still worth noting that this invention paved the way for the truly portable PCs: laptops. 

And the first model of this fully portable computer was released in 1981. It came with the name Osborne 1

“How about headsets?”

Well, the first pair of portable headphones came with the invention of Sony’s walkman. 

Now, this audio streaming device was small enough to be carried around. 

And it came with the first-ever light pair of headphones that was made with:

  • 2 foam earphones. 
  • A single metal headphone.

However, people realized that…

The walkman’s original headset didn’t have the best audio quality. 

And this led to the popular demand for 3rd-party headphone models. Thus, sparking the start of the revolutionary music industry. 

#3: Bluetooth in headphones was invented in 1999 

The earliest models of headphones all had wires.

However, with the invention of Bluetooth in 1999, this format changed. 

See, since this wireless technology was made…

Companies focused on creating Bluetooth headphones. 

That’s because more people wanted wireless models over wired ones. 

However, the first Bluetooth headphones weren’t for entertainment purposes.

Instead, the initial models of wireless headsets only supported phone calls. 

That’s because the bandwidth wasn’t strong enough to handle music streaming. 

With that…

It wasn’t until 2004 that brands sold wireless headphones to the public. 

And since then, people have been using wireless headsets for their:

  • Radio.
  • Computers. 
  • Mobile devices.

Fun fact: The name “Bluetooth” came from the 2nd King of Denmark, King Harald Bluetooth. And he was famous for uniting Scandinavia. So his name was used for the wireless technology meant to also unite PCs and the cellular industry.

You might also want to know: Do Wireless Headphones Last Longer Than Wired? 5 Scenarios

Bonus: Headphones can also be hacked like computers

It’s common knowledge that computers are at risk of being hacked. 

However, not as many know that hackers can also access headphones.

And if you’re wondering how they do so… 

It’s through the use of Bluetooth that all wireless headsets have.

See, there are several types of BT hacking:

  • BlueBorne. 
  • Bluejacking. 
  • Bluebugging.
  • Bluesnarfing.

And while these may sound cool, they pose dangerous security risks to your headphones.

For example…

Bluejacking is when hackers send you unwanted audio messages through your headset. 

Now, this usually doesn’t cause any privacy risks to your data.

However, it can still be alarming to hear random sounds you don’t know the source of, right?

Let me also mention the most dangerous type of Bluetooth hacking: Bluebugging.

And in this scenario…

The hacker can spy on or intercept your phone conversations. Or worst, they can even redirect your call to an attacker or scammer. 

“How can I keep my headphones protected?”

To secure your Bluetooth headset from hackers, keep these 3 pointers in mind:

Tip 1: Don’t pair your headphones in public

It’s easy for strangers to access your headphones if they’re in pairing mode.

So the easiest way to keep your headset safe:

Only pair it with your devices in private places like your home. 

Tip 2: Turn your headset’s Bluetooth OFF when it’s not in use

Skilled hackers can still access your headphones even if they’re not in pairing mode.

That said, you should turn your headset OFF if you’re not using it.

That’s because they can access wireless headphones that are ON. And this can happen even if your device isn’t in pairing mode. 

Tip 3: Get the newer headphones models

Get The Newer Headphones Models

Over the years, Bluetooth also kept improving. 

And it’s worth noting that newer headphones have the recent, safer BT versions. 

On the other hand, older headsets have outdated types of this wireless connections. 

For example, if your device has Bluetooth 4.0 or older…

Your headphones will be at a higher risk of being spied on by hackers. That’s what research states.

On the flip side, if your headset has Bluetooth 5.2… 

It’ll be much safer. And you’ll also have better audio. 

So, if you’re planning to buy a new pair of headphones…

You should opt for the most recent models. Like these active noise-canceling earbuds from Tozo, which is the pair I use when jogging. 

Or you may also check the specs of the headphones you’re about to buy. And ensure that it has Bluetooth 5.2 or newer. 

Recommended reading: Are Bluetooth Headphones Encrypted? 7 Security Facts

Differences between headphones and computers

There are several differences between headphones and computers. For starters, they’re completely different devices with unique purposes. And their prices also differ from each other. PCs also store your data and information, while headphones don’t.

That said, let’s dive into the specifics down below. 

#1: Device type

The primary difference between headphones and computers is their device type.

See, a PC is an electronic device that’s used to store and process data. And it’s a gadget you can use without additional input sources.

On the other hand, headphones are small speakers you can use to listen to any audio privately. And unlike PCs, they need another device as a source for their sound, including:

#2: Price

In general, computers are much more expensive than headphones.

See, while there are instances when you can find PCs that cost less than $100…

You can rarely see them in retail or online stores. 

That’s because the most common cheap computer models usually cost over $200. And this Lenovo Chromebook model is a good example of an affordable PC. 

In contrast, headphones are much cheaper. That’s because you can get wireless earbuds for less than $20 like this model from Haylou

And you can also get on-ear headphones from popular brands like JBL for just $50. 

#3: Data storage 

Computers store your data and information. However, headphones don’t.

As I stated earlier, headsets simply relay information from an input source to you.

With that said, they don’t hold any of your data like your:

  • Social media accounts.
  • Credit card information.
  • Spotify or music streaming app data.

So you don’t need to delete information or caches from your headphones to keep them safe. Meanwhile, you might need to do this regularly on your PC.