Dr. Amar Bose, founder of the Massachusetts corporation that bears his name, has died at age 83. Best known for his unique 901-series hi-fi speaker system and the Wave radio, Bose also developed the principles of electronic noise canceling headsets. He was also a revered member of the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he taught for 45 years.
Born in Philadelphia to parents who emigrated from India, Bose repaired radios as a teenager. He received bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from MIT. He developed his loudspeaker system out of frustration with what he considered the inferior quality of those available when he was a student. He founded Bose Corp. in 1964 and developed the very popular “direct reflecting” Bose 901, which stirred controversy among audiophiles that festers to this day.
According to the company, it was a 1978 airline flight from Europe to the U.S. that started Dr. Bose’s research into electronic noise cancelation. The earphones he was given by the airline were inadequate for listening to music above the roar of the engines. In 1986, he contributed two pairs of his experimental active noise reducing (ANR) headsets to Voyager pilots Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager for their round the world flight. The product was released in 1989, and Bose has been a leader in the field of ANR technology ever since.
It’s been said that Dr. Bose had a fascination with general aviation, and that drove his research into electronic noise cancelation. The result is that a generation of pilots has been spared the hearing loss associated with prolonged exposure to aircraft noise.
In a 2004 interview with Popular Science magazine, Bose said, “I would have been fired 100 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.”
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