Fowler graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BS in 1951, an MS in 1952, and from Harvard University with a PhD in Applied Physics, in 1958. He was awarded the Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize in 1988. He worked for IBM from 1958 to 1993, and is an IBM Fellow Emeritus. 
He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Science. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the IEEE. He has received the Wetherill Medl of the Franklin Institute, the David Sarnoff Award of the IEE and the Buckley prize of the APS. He is a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London.
He served in the U.S. Army from 1946-1948 and from 1953 to 1953.
- "60 New Members Elected to Academy of Sciences". The New York Times. May 13, 1990.