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.
Bose was born in a Bengali Hindu family and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a Bengali father, Noni Gopal Bose and an American mother, 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. His mother, Charlotte, is described as an American schoolteacher of French and German ancestry, but Bose described her as "more Bengali than me. She was a vegetarian and deeply interested in Vedanta and Hindu philosophy".
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.
Following graduation, 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, Dr. Y. W. Lee. Bose was awarded significant patents in two fields that continue to be important to the Bose Corporation. These patents were in the area of loudspeaker design and non-linear, two-state modulated, Class-D power processing.
The company Bose founded now employs more than 9,000 people worldwide and produces products for home, car, and professional audio, as well as conducting basic research in acoustics and other fields. Bose never made 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."
Starting in the 1980s, Bose developed an electromagnetic replacement for automotive shock absorbers. This technical breakthrough enables radically improved performance of automotive suspension systems, absorbing bumps and road shock while controlling car body motions and sway.
Bose said that his best ideas usually came to him in a flash. "These innovations are not the result of rational thought; it's an intuitive idea."
He married Prema Bose, but later divorced.[when?]} They had two children, Vanu and Maya, as well as three grandchildren: Varun, Aratrika, and Uday. Vanu Bose, is the founder and CEO of Vanu, Inc., a firm whose software-based radio technology provides a wireless infrastructure that enables individual base stations to simultaneously operate GSM, CDMA, and iDEN protocols for cellphone voice and data transmission.
Bose died on July 12, 2013 at the age of 83 in Wayland, Massachusetts.
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.
In 2011, Bose donated a majority of the company's non-voting shares to MIT on the condition that the shares never be sold. Because these shares are non-voting, MIT does not participate in operations or governance of Bose Corporation.
Honors and Awards
Fellow, IEEE, 1972 - for contributions to loudspeaker design, two-state amplifier-modulators, and nonlinear systems.