William Fouts House (December 1, 1923 – December 7, 2012) was an American otologist, physician and medical researcher who developed and invented the cochlear implant.
The cochlear implant is considered to be the first invention to restore not just the sense of hearing, but any of the absent five senses in humans. Dr. House also pioneered approaches to the lateral skull base for removal of tumors, and is considered “the Father of Neurotology.”
House was born on December 1, 1923, in Kansas City, Missouri, and moved to Whittier, California, when he was three years old. House completed pre-dental degrees at Whittier College and the University of Southern California.
He then enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, where he received a doctorate in dentistry. House next earned a medical degree from the University of Southern California after two years in the U.S. Navy.
His older half brother, Howard P. House, was also a physician and was focused on otology, founding the House Ear Institute (later renamed the House Research Institute) in 1946. William House eventually adopted the same focus.
House’s first design for a cochlear implant was surgically implanted in 1961, but the implant was rejected by the patient’s body. A longer lasting model was developed and successfully implanted in 1969.
One of his patients was astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr, first man in Space in 1961 and thanks to Dr. House, 5th man to walk on the moon in 1971 following a procedure performed by Dr. House for Meniere’s disease.
William House died on December 7, 2012, at his home in Aurora, Oregon, at the age of 89.