Frederick (Fred) Donald Waldhauer was born in 1927 and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He received his bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and his master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University. He initially worked as an engineer at RCA and from 1956 to 1987, he was a member of Technical Staff at Bell Telephone Laboratories. Much of Waldhauer's work was focused on telephony and digital transmission. While at Bell, he participated in the development of one of the first commercial digital sound transmission systems (T1 PCM), representing the first commercial application of digital audio.
Waldhauer's work on programmable multi-band compression in the 1980s at Bell Laboratories, represented a fundamental shift in hearing aid design. In 1987 he continued work on his hearing aid innovations at ReSound Corporation of Palo Alto, California, that brought to market in 1989 his invention, the first technologically advanced hearing aid. His continued development of technological components for hearing aids, led to major advances in this field in the decades that followed. Waldhauer was became a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the national professional organization in 1977, and was a longtime member of the Audio Engineering Society. In addition to his professional memberships, Waldhauer was a professional engineer in the state of New Jersey and a patent attorney.
He published numerous technical and scientific papers on feedback and high-speed digital transmission, and published a book on early transistor design, Transistor Electronics, (Prentice-Hall, 1955), and on feedback theory: Feedback, (Wiley, 1982). He held 18 patents.
Music, always important to Waldhauer, led to his earliest artist collaboration with musician Leroy (Sam) Parkins: In 1961, together with engineer Billy Klüver and artist Herbert Gesner, he constructed light machines for a performance Blues for Samuel Beckett, at Moderna Museet in Stockholm; 1961; Noise Studies, electronic music, 1962; and additional other smaller collaborative works.
For 9 Evenings, he created the Proportional Control System (P.C.S.) used by David Tudor in Bandoneon! Factorial (a combine). This interface was comprised of a plotting board, 16 receivers and an electronic pen to allow numerous components in the Armory to be remotely controlled. Notably, Tudor used the device to spatialize the sound tracks and adjust the volume from one speaker to another.
In 1966 Waldhauer was a co-founder of Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) He served on the Board of Directors of E.A.T. and collaborated with artists who came to the organization for technical help. One such project was joining engineers Robbie Robinson and Cecil Coker to work on the sound system for Robert Rauschenberg’s Soundings.
In 1970, Waldhauer collaborated once again with Tudor to help him create the sound system for the Pepsi Pavilion, designed by E.A.T. for Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan. In 1969, he (together with artist Forrest Myers) sent a number of works of art into space by miniaturizing (on 40 ceramic chips) drawings by various artists (Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, David Novros, and John Chamberlain). In fact, one of these works accompanied Apollo 12 on its lunar mission. The other chips would eventually become part of private or museum collections, including that of MoMA (New York, NY).