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Amar Bose, inventor of Bose audio systems, dies at 83

At 13, Amar Bose began repairing radio sets for pocket money for repair shops in Philadelphia.

Boston: Amar G Bose, the Indian-American visionary entrepreneur and acoustics pioneer, famous for making high-quality Bose audio systems and speakers for home users, auditoriums and automobiles, has died.

He was 83.

Bose's death was announced yesterday by his company Bose Corp's president, Bob Maresca, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Bose was on the faculty for more than 40 years.
Bose died yesterday at his home in Wayland, Massachusetts. His death was confirmed by his son, Dr Vanu G Bose.

"Dr Bose founded Bose Corporation almost 50 years ago with a set of guiding principles centred on research and innovation," Maresca was quoted by New York Times as saying in a statement. "That focus has never changed."

Bose was born on November 2, 1929, in Philadelphia. His father, Noni Gopal Bose, was a Bengali freedom fighter who was studying physics at the Calcutta University when he was arrested and imprisoned for his opposition to British rule.

Noni Gopal Bose escaped and fled to the US in 1920, where he married an American schoolteacher.

At 13, Amar Bose began repairing radio sets for pocket money for repair shops in Philadelphia.

As founder and chairman of the privately held company, Bose focused relentlessly on acoustic engineering innovation.

His speakers, though expensive, earned a reputation for bringing concert-hall-quality audio into the home.

And by refusing to offer stock to the public, Bose was able to pursue risky long-term research, such as noise-cancelling headphones and an innovative suspension system for cars, without the pressures of quarterly earnings announcements.

A perfectionist and a devotee of classical music, Bose was disappointed by the inferior sound of a high-priced stereo system he purchased when he was an MIT engineering student in the 1950s.

His interest in acoustic engineering piqued, he realised that 80 percent of the sound experienced in a concert hall was indirect, meaning that it bounced off walls and ceilings before reaching the audience.

This realisation, using basic concepts of physics, formed the basis of his research.

In the early 1960s, Bose invented a new type of stereo speaker based on psychoacoustics, the study of sound perception.

His design incorporated multiple small speakers aimed at the surrounding walls, rather than directly at the listener, to reflect the sound and, in essence, recreate the larger sound heard in concert halls.

In 1964, at the urging of his mentor and adviser at MIT, Dr Y W Lee, he founded his company to pursue long-term research in acoustics.

"I would have been fired a hundred times at a company run by MBA'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, in a 2004 interview in Popular Science magazine, had said.

The Bose Corporation initially pursued military contracts, but Bose's vision was to produce a new generation of stereo speakers.

Though his first speakers fell short of expectations, Bose kept at it.

In 1968, he introduced the Bose 901 Direct/Reflecting speaker system, which became a best seller for more than 25 years and firmly entrenched Bose as a leader in a highly competitive audio components marketplace.

Unlike conventional loudspeakers, which radiated sound only forward, the 901s used a blend of direct and reflected sound.

Later inventions included the popular Bose Wave radio and the Bose noise-cancelling headphones, which were so effective they were adopted by the military and commercial pilots.

A Bose software programme enabled acoustic engineers to simulate the sound from any seat in a large hall, even before the site was built.

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 favourite in that market segment.

Bose's devotion to research was matched by his passion for teaching. Having earned his bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering at the MIT in the 1950s, Bose returned from a Fulbright scholarship at the National Physical Laboratory in New Delhi and joined the MIT faculty in 1956.

He taught there for more than 45 years, and in 2011, donated a majority of his company's shares to the school.


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