Friday 22 September 2017

Founder of Dolby Laboratories dies

Audio pioneer Ray Dolby has died aged 80
Audio pioneer Ray Dolby has died aged 80

Ray Dolby, an American inventor and audio pioneer who founded Dolby Laboratories, has died at the age of 80.

The company said Mr Dolby died in his home in San Francisco. He had been living with Alzheimer's disease for several years and was diagnosed with acute leukemia this summer.

Dolby founded his namesake company in 1965 and grew it into an industry leader in audio technology. His work in noise reduction and surround sound led to the creation of a number of technologies that are still used in music, filmmaking and entertainment today.

"Today we lost a friend, mentor and true visionary," Kevin Yeaman, president and CEO of Dolby Laboratories, said in a statement.

Mr Yeaman said that Mr Dolby invented an entire industry around delivering an experience in sound. His work ranged from helping to reduce the hiss in cassette recordings to bringing Star Wars to life on the big screen in Dolby Stereo.

Mr Dolby held 50 US patents and won a number of notable awards for his life's work, including several Emmys, two Oscars and a Grammy.

He was awarded the National Medal of Technology from President Bill Clinton and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in the US and the Royal Academy of Engineers in the UK, among other honours. In 2012, the theatre that serves as home to the Academy Awards was renamed the Dolby Theatre and the Ray Dolby Ballroom was named in his honour.

"Ray really managed to have a dream job," said Dagmar Dolby, his wife of 47 years. "Because he could do exactly what he wanted to do, whichever way he wanted to do it, and in the process, did a lot of good for many music and film lovers. And in the end, built a very successful company."

Mr Dolby's co-workers described him as inspiring and thoughtful man, who cared passionately about engineering. "To be an inventor, you have to be willing to live with a sense of uncertainty, to work in the darkness and grope toward an answer, to put up with the anxiety about whether there is an answer," Mr Dolby once said.

He is survived by his wife, Dagmar, his sons, Tom and David, their spouses, Andrew and Natasha, and four grandchildren.

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