The concept for noise canceling technology dates back to 1978 when Dr Amar Bose was flying from Zurich to Boston. Dr Bose was frustrated because the noise from the airplane drowned out the music playing on his headphones. Dr Bose who was an engineer wanted to come up with a solution for this, so he took off his headphones and took out his note pad and began to sketch out a design that would eventually become the world’s first noise cancelling headphones. His design would use a microphone inside the headphones that listens to the sounds outside and cancel them out with a constructive interference. For each valley there was a peak and for each peak there was a valley which results in noise canceling. The headphones don’t always cancel out noise, they work best with consistent noises like in the airplane cabin. Sounds with too much variation tend to leak in.
After more than 15 years and 50 million USD spent the first prototype was made. In early 1986 Dr Bose found out about the Voyager Flight that would attempt to circumnavigate the globe without refueling. He offered his prototype to the pilots of the flight which resulted in a massive success and put his noise canceling technology on the map.
The first commercially available noise canceling headset in the world was the Bose Aviation Headset which was launched in 1989.
In 1993 the Bose Combat Vehicle Crewman headset went into production for the US Army. In 1999, Bose introduced the first noise canceling headphones exclusively for American Airline’s first and business class passengers.
He was listed in the Forbes 400 in 2007 as the 271st richest man in the word, with a net worth of $1.8 billion. He lost his position in the billionaires list in 2009 but returned in 2011 with a net worth of $1.0 Billion.
In 2011, he donated a majority of the company to MIT on the condition that the shares never be sold. He passed away on the 12th of July 2013, at the age of 83.
“Never lose your imagination. Always dream of things that are better and think about ways to reach those things.”
– Dr. Amar G. Bose