Meet The Indian-American Engineer Who Created The First Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Dr Amar Bose
Dr Amar BoseMontalvo

The idea for noise-cancelling headphones began in 1933, Germany but it wasn't until 2000 that they were actualized for commercial use. In 1978, while on a flight to Switzerland, sound engineer, MIT professor and the founder of Bose Corporation Dr Amar Bose was given headphones from the airplane staff to listen to music but the constant sound of the airplane's engines made it impossible to enjoy the music, in fact, he could barely hear it. Dr. Bose got to finding a way to create a noise-cancelling headphone on the same flight, sketching possible designs on a napkin. By the time his Europe trip was over, he had already gathered a whole research team to build the noise reduction technology.

A young Dr. Bose
A young Dr. BoseThe Juggernaut

Born in Philadelphia, Amar Gopal Bose was the child of a freedom-fighting father who fled Bengal in the 1920s in order to avoid persecution by the British colonial police, and a French-German mother who was a school teacher. Bose nurtured his love for electronics from 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 help provide for his family. He graduated and completed his PhD from MIT and joined the university as an assistant professor. Dissatisfied with a high-end stereo speaker system he bought in 1956 that failed to reproduce the sound of a live performance, Dr. Bose launched Bose Corporation in 1964 after years of research on acoustics and psychoacoustic. The company, which was just Dr. Bose and his two employees developed power-regulating systems for the military and other government agencies by day and explored acoustics and speaker design by night.

Bose Aviation headphones
Bose Aviation headphonesPopular Mechanics

On December 14, 1986 a two-seater private voyager took off for from a desert in Southern California. It remained in the sky for 9 days 3 minutes and 44 seconds exactly and, on December 23, became the world’s first airplane to fly across the whole world without stopping or refueling even once. Its two record-setting pilots, Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, in order to increase their endurance levels, were wearing prototype headphones that used noise-cancellation developed by none other than Bose’s Noise Reduction Technology Group which became a common name in Aviation.

Bose Quiet Comfort
Bose Quiet ComfortWikipedia

In 1999, Bose introduced the first noise-cancelling headphones exclusively for American Airlines first and business-class customers. The headsets were popular, leading to the general introduction of the QuietComfort series in 2000. Bose's invention of noise-cancelling headphones was a game-changer in the audio industry. It enabled people to enjoy high-quality sound even in noisy environments, without having to turn up the volume to dangerous levels. Today, Bose headphones are some of the most expensive products you can find that outshine major brands like Beats and Sennheiser in the same pricing bracket. Not because of celebrity endorsements (no shade to Dr. Dre) but because of their military-grade quality, crisp sound and legacy of innovation.

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