Amar Bose

Love of Music and Electronics Leads to a Revolution in Sound

Photo of Amar Bose

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a Bengali father and U.S.-born mother, Amar Bose studied the violin as a child and nurtured a passion for both classical music and the anatomy of sound.

Bose had a fascination with electronics, beginning with fixing electric trains and repairing things. While in high school, he operated his own radio repair shop, building a solid understanding of how electronics work.

“I could build these things and get them to work, but I couldn’t design them,” said Bose. “I wanted very much to know what the theory was behind all of this.”

Bose's intellectual dedication resulted in a full scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering in the 1950s. When Bose earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering, he rewarded himself with a new Hi-Fi sound system. His disappointment in the sound quality led him to ponder better ways to replicate a “concert hall-level” of sound quality through a speaker.

In 1956, he earned a Fulbright U.S. Student award in Mathematics, traveling to the National Physical Laboratory in New Delhi, India. He then returned to MIT as a faculty member, using the new experiences and ideas gained on Fulbright to inform his academic and professional work. Despite his later commercial success, Bose taught at MIT for more than 45 years and became one of the most challenging and popular instructors of his time.

Outside of academia, Bose turned his ideas into action, creating one of America’s most innovative and successful audio technology companies in 1964: Bose Corporation. The Bose Corporation’s first contracts were not for home devices; the company supported NASA and the U.S. Military with improved audio communications. Amar Bose and his team would later build the global Bose brand of commercial products based on his groundbreaking loudspeaker designs.

Bose propelled scientific inquiry and invention forward with the discovery of new concepts and the development of new products such as the best-selling 901 speaker system, which offered life-like sound through bookshelf-size speakers; the first factory-installed sound systems for vehicles; and countless other systems designed to deliver a rich, deep sound quality for use inside and outside of the home.

Today, Bose iPhone docks, surround-sound home entertainment speaker systems, and noise-canceling headphones dominate the market. Bose loudspeakers are used all over the world, from the Sistine Chapel to Olympic stadiums. A Fulbright alumnus with a household name, his accolades include induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and receipt of the prestigious "Red Dot: Design Team of the Year" award. Like so many Fulbrighters, Amar Bose used his intellect, observations, and understanding of what brings people together to make advances which improve the lives and the listening experience of people across the globe.

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