Koss Corp. founder and stereophone inventor dies

John C. Koss
John C. Koss

Last updated on December 27th, 2021 at 12:24 pm

John C. Koss, the founder of Milwaukee-based Koss Corp. and inventor of the stereophone, died Tuesday at the age of 91, the company announced today.

He launched the company in 1953, initially to rent television sets to hospital patients.

In 1958, Koss and engineer Martin Lange, Jr. developed the world’s first high fidelity stereophone. That product sparked the creation of the global stereo headphone industry.

“Dad loved music and the experience of a live performance,” said Michael J. Koss, the current chairman and CEO of Koss Corp. “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.”

Under John Koss’s leadership, Koss Corp. created several other innovations. He helped standardize the plug and headphone jack still commonly used today.

Koss also served as a director and chairman of Junior Achievement of Southeastern Wisconsin and as a director of the Milwaukee School of Engineering. He served on the board of several charitable organizations.

In the 1980s, 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. This relationship ultimately led to the John C. Koss Endowed Chair in Otolaryngology.

In 2007, 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. 

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

“Ask anyone who knew my father, and they’ll tell you he was one of a kind,” Michael J. Koss said. “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.”

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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