Originally from Philadelphia, Bose, who was recently inducted into the 2008 National Inventors Hall of Fame, first discovered his love of audio electronics while fixing radios in his basement as a teenager during World War II. Later, in high school, he would take off Fridays to work at a radio repair shop, an arrangement that his classmates often teased him about and that lasted until he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1947.
Bose’s parents had a strong influence over his life. His father, an immigrant from what is now Bangladesh, was in the business of importing cocoa fiber products. He was also a lecturer and activist for freedom for India during British rule. His mother was born in the United States, but steeped in Indian culture.
“[Being Indian] definitely had an influence,” he said.
When he was a professor at MIT, he always tried to meet the parents of doctoral students, so he could tell more about the students. “You can see the correlation; usually the relationship is pretty tight. You can know a lot about someone’s character by meeting their parents,” he said.
Despite his age and achievements, Bose, who has two children in their 40s, remains a dedicated scientist and researcher who still works six days a week. He likes to conduct most of his research at his home in Wayland, Mass., since he says the work is more mathematical and he doesn’t want to be disturbed. When he’s not at the job, he plays badminton and swims (three times a week) and enjoys listening to classical music.
And he shows no signs of slowing down. When asked if he was planning on retiring anytime soon, he quipped: “What’s that?”
“Research is play for me,” he said as he sat in his office high atop the Bose Mountain, with a postcard-picture perfect view of the Massachusetts countryside. “You’re playing games with the universe,” he said.
He has a wall-sized dry erase board next to his desk so he can write down complicated mathematical formulas and equations that pop into his head throughout the day. “To do research you have to believe something is possible,” he said.
As for inventions the corporation may pursue in the future, Bose remains open minded. “Whatever people come up with that’s interesting and challenging. … If it’s just for sales, we’re not interested. We only want the best product, and we’ll continue on the same path trying to make excellence in whatever we do.”