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How did Bose become Bose?

How did Bose become the most famous audio-only company on the planet? No other audio brand has anywhere near the name recognition.

Amar Bose started Bose in 1964 when he was a professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He went on to build a very successful company that is one of the top selling hi-fi, headphone, and car audio brands in the United States.

Bose's popularity isn't based on selling budget-priced gear; the company aims higher and has earned its success with a more quality-oriented approach. CNET's Matthew Moskovciak recently blogged about Bose's new Lifestyle home theater systems, that cost from $2,000 for the T20; $2,500 for the V25; and $3,300 for the V35. These three Bose systems don't come with a DVD or Blu-ray player and have prices that are well above the norm for home theater systems. So I have to wonder why Bose is so popular given its high prices; I've reviewed a few excellent  home-theater-in-a-box systems with built-in Blu-ray players that sell for less than $700--Panasonic's SC-BT300 is an excellent example.

I bought a pair of new Bose 501 speakers in the mid-1970s, and liked them well enough to live with them for a few years. Back then, before the word "lifestyle" was coined, Bose was accepted in the fringes of the audiophile community. However, now I don't think any American high-end audio magazine even reviews Bose products.

I haven't listened to any Bose speakers or home theater systems in a few years, so I can't comment on what they sound like now; however, I've heard Bose noise-canceling headphones and I like them. While they're not my favorite, I understand why Bose is a heavy-hitter in the noise-cancellation headphone market.

Sure, Bose ads in newspapers, magazines, and on radio are probably responsible for most of Bose's headphone popularity, so you have to wonder why no other audio company ever comes close to matching Bose's ad coverage. It must be doing something right; Bose is probably the only strictly audio company most people could name.

I can't recall ever meeting a dissatisfied Bose owner, at least while they were still using a Bose product. Its home theater gear is easier to use than most theater systems are, so the reasons for the company's success aren't hard to fathom.

I'd love to hear from Bose owners, tell us what you think. If you have any experiences with Bose customer service, I'd love to hear your story.