Amar Gopal Bose (November 2, 1929 – July 12, 2013) was an American academic and entrepreneur of Indian descent. An electrical engineer and sound engineer, he was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for over 45 years. He was also the founder and chairman of Bose Corporation. In 2011, he donated a majority of the company to MIT in the form of non-voting shares to sustain and advance MIT’s education and research mission.
Bose was born in Philadelphia, PA, to a Bengali Hindu father, Noni Gopal Bose and an American mother of English and German ancestry, Charlotte. His father was an Indian freedom revolutionary who, having been imprisoned for his political activities, fled Bengal in the 1920s in order to avoid further persecution by the British colonial police.
Bose first displayed his entrepreneurial skills and his interest in electronics at age thirteen when, during the World War II years, he enlisted school friends as co-workers in a small home business repairing model trains and home radios, to supplement his family’s income.
After graduating from school Bose enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating with a BS (Bachelor of Science) in Electrical Engineering in the early 1950s. Bose spent a year at Philips in Eindhoven, Netherlands; and a year as a Fulbright research student in New Delhi, India, where he met his future first wife. He completed his PhD in Electrical Engineering from MIT.
Following graduation, Amar Bose became an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During his early years as a professor, Bose bought a high-end stereo speaker system in 1956 and he was disappointed to find that speakers with impressive technical specifications failed to reproduce the realism of a live performance. This would eventually motivate his extensive speaker technology research, concentrating on key weaknesses in the high-end speaker systems available at the time. His research on acoustics led him to invent a stereo loudspeaker that would reproduce, in a domestic setting, the dominantly reflected sound field that characterizes the listening space of the audience in a concert hall. His focus on psychoacoustics later became a hallmark of his company’s audio products.
For initial capital to fund his company in 1964, Bose turned to angel investors, including his MIT thesis advisor and professor, Y. W. Lee. Bose was awarded significant patents in two fields that continue to be important to the Bose Corporation.
The company Bose founded employed 11,700 people worldwide as of 2016 and produces products for home, car, and professional audio, as well as conducting basic research in acoustics and other fields. Bose never took his company public, and since the company was privately held Bose was able to pursue risky long-term research. In a 2004 interview in Popular Science magazine, he said: “I would have been fired a hundred times at a company run by MBAs. 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.”
In 2007, he was listed in Forbes 400 as the 271st richest man in the world, with a net worth of $1.8 billion. In 2009, he was no longer on the billionaire list, but returned to the list in 2011, with a net worth of $1.0 billion. In addition to running his company, Bose remained a professor at MIT until 2001. He earned the Baker Teaching Award in 1963–64, and further teaching awards over the years. The Bose Award for Excellence in Teaching (1989), and later the Junior Bose Award (1995) were established in his honor, to recognize outstanding teaching in the MIT School of Engineering. Please view the two links below to get a glimpse of his genius.