Amar G. Bose, founder and chairman of the audio technology company Bose Corp., known for the rich sound of its small tabletop radios and its noise-canceling headphones popular among frequent fliers, died July 12 at his home in Wayland, Mass. He was 83.
The death was announced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Dr. Bose began his acoustics research and was on the faculty for more than 40 years.
As a student at MIT in the early 1950s, he was appalled at the poor sound quality of an apparently highly rated record player. He became almost obsessively devoted to improving the loudspeakers and to the study of acoustics.
He was asked to join the faculty in 1956 — the year he received his doctorate — and he accepted with the intention of teaching for no more than two years, the university said. He continued as a member of the MIT faculty until 2001.
Dr. Bose started a research program in physical acoustics and psychoacoustics, leading to the development of patents in acoustics, electronics, nonlinear systems and communication theory.
With several others, Dr. Bose founded his company, based in Framingham, just outside Boston, in 1964. The company’s products include elegant Wave system radios boasting “lifelike, room-filling sound”; cushioned QuietComfort headphones for reducing background noises, such as airplane engines; home theater accessories; and computer speakers.
Starting in the 1980s, high-end auto makers including Ferrari, Audi, Mercedes and Porsche began including Bose systems in their cars. Bose sound systems can also be found in such varied locations as the Sistine Chapel, the Japan National Theatre and the Superdome in New Orleans.
In 2011, Dr. Bose gave MIT the majority of Bose Corp. stock in the form of non-voting shares whose dividends are used to support education and research. MIT does not participate in management or governance of the company.
Amar Gopal Bose was born Nov. 2, 1929, in Philadelphia. His father was a political dissident involved in the independence movement in India before moving to the United States in 1920 and earning a living importing coconut-fiber doormats from India.
As a child, Dr. Bose was fascinated by model trains and the radio. By his teens, he was able to disassemble and repair them. According to Popular Science, when his father’s doormat business crumbled because of the difficulties of shipping during World War II, Dr. Bose suggested they team up on a radio-repair service.
The income carried them through the war years, but his father had to borrow $10,000 for Dr. Bose to attend MIT after the war. He received his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate from MIT, all in electrical engineering.
Dr. Bose was given many awards and honors during his lifetime. He was an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He was also inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2008.
In a 2005 interview with the Associated Press, Dr. Bose said he tried to let his curiosity be a guiding principle as he demonstrated an experimental, Bose Corp.-designed car suspension system.
“Even our financial people were trying to get the engineers to discourage me, because they all saw money going into it,” Dr. Bose said. “But some things you just believe in.”
His first marriage, to Prema Sarathy, ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife, Ursula Boltzhauser; two children from his first marriage; and a grandchild.
From staff reports and news services