Founder of Bose Began as Inventor, Ended as Businessman

The founder of Bose Sound Systems began his career as an academic engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the son of immigrants who told interviewers that he didn't go into business to make money.

As a child, Amar Bose was interested in electronics and audio equipment. At age 13, he would spend his spare time fixing radios in his parents' basement. He then sold those radios to help his family when his Indian father's business was shuttered during World War II. After completing an undergraduate degree at MIT, he conducted research for Philips Electronics in the Netherlands before he was accepted into a Fulbright research program in New Delhi. Finally, he returned to the United States and MIT, where he earned a PhD in electrical engineering.

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Once he had his PhD, he rewarded himself with an expensive audio system to tinker with, which began his side project of researching acoustics. While working on government contracts during the day, he spent nights looking into acoustics and recording samples of live music in order to synthesize and perfect audio samples. By 1964, he had founded Bose Corporation and had obtained funding from angel investors.

Now, Bose has 10,000 employees and revenues of almost $3 billion per year. Amar Bose passed away in 2013 at the age of 83, but he never considered himself a businessman – his success, to him, was almost a fluke. At the end of his life, Bose was the 271st richest man in the world as ranked by Forbes, but he never forgot his roots.

"I would have been fired a hundred times at a company run by MBAs," he told Popular Science in 2004. "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."