Amar Bose, founder of Bose Corp.,is dead

Acoustic engineering pioneer was 83.

By American Bazaar Staff

WASHINGTON, DC: Dr. Amar Gopal Bose, the founder of the Massachusetts-based Bose Corp., known for its high quality audio equipment the world over, and one of the

Amar Bose; credit:
Amar Bose; credit:

best known Indian American entrepreneurs, has died. He was 83. No details have been issued on the cause and day of his death, but his demise was confirmed by his son, Dr. Vanu Bose, and MIT, where Amar Bose taught for 45 years.

“Amar Bose was an exceptional human being and an extraordinarily gifted leader,” L. Rafael Reif, MIT’s president, said in a statement. “He made quality mentoring and a joyful pursuit of excellence, ideas and possibilities the hallmark of his career in teaching, research and business. I learned from him, and was inspired by him, every single time I met with him.”

“It is impossible to put into words what Dr. Bose meant to each of us, and to Bose,” Bob Maresca, president of Bose Corp., said in a statement. “He was more than our chairman. He was our teacher — always encouraging us, always believing that we could do great things, and that anything was possible.”

Bose founder Bose Corp. in 1964 because of his keen interest in acoustic engineering, and his personal disappointment at buying what he thought was a high-end speaker system in the 1950s, which he shut off after five minutes of listening because the sound quality he felt was poor.

“I figured that all I needed to do was look at the specifications,” Bose was quoted as saying by Discover magazine in 2004. “So I bought what looked like the best one, turned it on, and turned it off in five minutes, the sound was so poor.”

After some initial products that failed to make it big, Bose’s persistence paid off when the 901 Direct/Reflecting speaker was introduced in 1968, which became a worldwide bestseller. In 2010, Bose Corp. of Framingham reported revenue of more than $2 billion, reported The Boston Globe.

The New York Times said later inventions included the popular Bose Wave radio and the Bose noise-canceling headphones, which were so effective they were adopted by the military and commercial pilots. A Bose software program enabled acoustic engineers to simulate the sound from any seat in a large hall, even before the site was built. The system was used to create sound systems for such diverse spaces as Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Sistine Chapel and the Masjid al-Haram, the grand mosque in Mecca.

In 1982, some of the world’s top automakers, including Mercedes and Porsche, began to install Bose audio systems in their vehicles, and the brand remains a favorite in that market segment, said the Times.

According to The New York Times, because he refused to offer stock to the public, Bose was able to pursue risky long-term research, such as noise-canceling headphones and an innovative suspension system for cars, without the pressures of quarterly earnings announcements.

In a 2004 interview in Popular Science magazine, he said: “I would have been fired a hundred times at a company run by M.B.A.’s. But I never went into business to make money. I went into business so that I could do interesting things that hadn’t been done before.”

Bose was born on November 2, 1929, in Philadelphia. His father, Noni Gopal Bose, was a Bengali freedom fighter who was studying physics at Calcutta University when he was arrested and imprisoned for his opposition to British rule in India. He escaped and fled to the United States in 1920, where he married an American schoolteacher, said the New York Times.

He told Discover that his father had “arrived at Ellis Island in 1920 with $5 in his pocket.”

“We had a small house in suburban Philadelphia, and Indian people would come stay with us for days, weeks, or months,” he said in the Discover interview. “The food we ate was Indian, and both my mother and father were very deep into the ancient philosophy of India, so it could well have been an Indian household.”

The family members also faced a great deal of prejudice, he added, and were not served when they went to restaurants.

Bose went on to study at MIT, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in 1951, a master’s in 1952, and a doctorate in 1956. In spring 1956, he taught in India on a Fulbright scholarship and studied acoustics at night.

Bose and his ex-wife, Prema, had two children, Vanu, now the head of his own company, Vanu Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., and Maya Bose, who survive him, as does his second wife, Ursula, and one grandchild.

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