Musician, entrepreneur, and inventor John C. Koss passed away Tuesday, December 21, 2021, at 91. He was the Founder and former Chairman of Koss Corporation, a consumer electronics company Mr. Koss created in 1953 initially to rent television sets to hospital patients.
In 1958, Mr. Koss and his partner, Martin Lange, Jr., introduced personal listening to the world with the development of the world’s first high fidelity Stereophone. This product, the SP/3 Stereophone, sparked 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.”
Throughout his career, John Koss drove the Koss Corporation with many headphone, audio, and technological innovations. After introducing the SP/3 Stereophone, Mr. Koss developed the Pro/4 Series, which became a recording industry standard, and the official headphones of Air Force One. He went on to help standardize the plug and headphone jack we take for granted 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.
Seeing the miniaturization of electronics in the 1980s, John Koss pushed his company to develop “portable” headphones for on-the-go listening. The result was the Koss Porta Pro, a collapsible headphone that continues to be one of the most popular and well-respected headphones on the market today.
Mr. Koss’ innovative focus always emphasized high quality, an exciting listening experience, and outstanding customer service. In 1989, Koss introduced its “No-Questions-Asked” Lifetime Warranty Program on its entire line of stereo headphones.
“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’.”
A graduate of Riverside High School, Mr. Koss served his local community as a 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, along with an honorary Doctor of Engineering Degree in 1983. 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.
In the 1980s, Mr. 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, Mr. 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. John C. Koss 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. 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.”