Acknowledgement: Many of the pictures provided by Candace Rudmose, daughter, and Kristopher Olson, grandson
H. Wayne (Jones) Rudmose*, a Harvard-trained physicist who was a pioneer in the field of acoustics, died March 26, 2006 at the age of 91. Dr. Rudmose, who received his Ph.D from Harvard in 1946, invented the Rudmose automatic audiometer, a device to measure hearing with precision. Throughout his career, he worked tirelessly to educate people working in loud noise environments in the military and in industry about the need to guard against hearing loss by using protective measures.
He was born in Cisco, Texas, in 1915 to Floyd W. and Wilma R. Jones, the second of two sons. His older brother was Burton. Floyd was a pharmacist, tax assessor and later an automobile salesman. The family moved from Cisco to Albany, Texas in Shackleford County. Wayne attended Albany High School. During Wayne’s teens the family boarded four young men, all teachers in the public school system, clearly a stimulating household for his inquisitive mind. His maternal grandfather was born in Denmark*. He entered the University of Texas in 1931 at the age of 16. Wayne’s academic performance during his freshmen year qualified him for membership in Phi Eta Sigma, a scholastic honorary society. Wayne earned bachelor's (1935) and master's (1936) degrees in physics. His thesis was entitled, A Sound-Pressure Meter and Its Applications. His supervisor was Professor Boner.
Wayne completed his master’s at the age of 21. He is seen at left, in his senior gown, in front of Painter Hall, 1935. At right, he is in his master’s regalia, 1936. Following graduation, he received a scholarship to attend Harvard to pursue his PhD studies, which were interrupted by America's entry into World War II. Like many young scientists, he participated in joint efforts between academe and the military to solve technical problems. He spent the war years at Harvard investigating vibration and noise levels that interfered with communication systems among crew members, both in aircraft and within vast aircraft carriers. This experience confirmed his fascination with sound and human hearing, which he fulfilled by his lifelong work in acoustics, then an emerging field of research within experimental physics. In 1946, he completed his dissertation and received his PhD. His thesis was entitled, “Sound Spectra in Aircraft as Influenced by Acoustical Treatment.” The work was done under the supervision of L. L. Beranek, director of the Harvard Electro-Acoustic Laboratory. The work was published in J. Acoust. Soc. Am., vol. 19, pp. 357-364, 1947.
Following graduation, he returned to Texas and joined the Southern Methodist University faculty, where he began to design and make instruments for measuring sound that he intended to use in his consulting work. He built the first anechoic chamber in the Southwest. As a professor at SMU in Dallas, he taught physics from 1946–1963 and continued original research. During this time he consulted regularly with Douglas Aircraft, designed the sound system for Dallas' Love Field Airport, the San Juan, Puerto Rico Airport, the SMU Coliseum, and many other public and private buildings. He was the author of numerous academic papers dealing with the study of sound and was active in the Acoustical Society of America. Wayne at SMU is shown at right.
While at SMU, he developed the automatic audiometer and formed a company to produce and market the apparatus. The automatic audiometer was used extensively by the military for testing the hearing of potential recruits. The company was acquired by Tracor, Inc., in 1963, and Dr. Rudmose and his family moved to Austin. This was the beginning of a new career in business. He continued to be an inventor, however, developing a device to detect hearing irregularities in newborns to avoid permanent damage to the ear. It was called, the Rudmose RA-100 Warblet Infant Audiometer. He was Group Vice President of Science and Systems at Tracor when he retired in 1980.
In 1951, Wayne married Christelle Simmons. She had attended Texas State College for Women. Her school photo in 1938 is as below.
An avid player of tennis and golf, Dr. Rudmose was a member of The Austin Country Club. He was a strong supporter of the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Austin Lyric Opera. Dr. Rudmose was married to Christelle Simmons Rudmose for 55 years. She died in 1995. Dr. Rudmose’s remaining family (2011) include his daughter Candace Rudmose of Austin, Texas, daughter Rachel Parker-Gwin and husband Louis Gwin of Las Vegas, Nevada and grandson, Kristopher Olson of Seattle and his wife Ellen Peterson.
* He took his mother’s maiden name. Her father was born in Denmark.
Rudmose Associates Model ARJ Recording Audiometer– Rudmose Associate
Harvard-trained physicist Wayne Rudmose was a pioneer in the field of acoustics who developed instruments for measuring sound, including the first automatic audiometer.
A native Texan, Dr. Rudmose received his PhD from Harvard in 1946, after obtaining his undergraduate degrees from the University of Texas and taking a break to serve in World War II. He became a professor of Physics at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and continued his research.
Rudmose Associates Develops Automated Stimulus Intensity Apparatus
While at SMU, Dr. Rudmose formed Rudmose Associates to produce and market his original designs. He introduced the first variable pulse depth audiometer, which added automated features to the manual units of the day. It was called the RA-101, and it allowed the subject to search for his own hearing threshold while the operator maintained complete control over the settings and frequency of trials. This instrument had earphones called Otocups which were individually compensated at each frequency. Several more versions of this testing device followed, including those for two-subject and four-subject group testing.
The Rudmose Model ARJ Recording Audiometers
The Rudmose Associates ARJ series was a commercially available apparatus, mostly used by groups such as schools. It was the next generation of audiometer technology and had automated intensity, frequency and data recording functions. A punched card was placed in the unit and the subject was instructed to press a button on a hand switch to indicate whether a tone was audible.
This equipment was first tested at the 1955 Wisconsin State Fair in specially constructed booths. By the late 1960s, employee-controlled self-recording audiometers determined the hearing level by tracing lines on a rectangular card proportional to the employee’s hearing thresholds. The audiometers could be grouped together for concurrent testing of multiple employees or other subjects.
H. Wayne Rudmose Photo Album