RIP: Tech Pioneer Ray Dolby

Dolby Laboratories announced that Ray Dolby, an American inventor recognized around the world for developing groundbreaking audio technologies, died on September 12 at his home in San Francisco, at the age of 80. Dr. Dolby had been living with Alzheimer's Disease in recent years, and was diagnosed in July of this year with acute leukemia.

Dr. Dolby founded Dolby Laboratories in 1965 and created an environment where scientists and engineers continue to advance the science of sight and sound to make entertainment and communications more engaging. Dr. Dolby's pioneering work in noise reduction and surround sound led to the development of many state-of-the-art technologies, for which he holds more than 50 U.S. patents.

"Today we lost a friend, mentor and true visionary," said Kevin Yeaman, President and CEO, Dolby Laboratories. "Ray Dolby founded the company based on a commitment to creating value through innovation and an impassioned belief that if you invested in people and gave them the tools for success they would create great things. Ray's ideals will continue to be a source of inspiration and motivation for us all."

Dr. Dolby was known for his insatiable curiosity and attributed his success to a quest for education fostered by supportive parents. Early in Dr. Dolby's career, while attending high school on the San Francisco Peninsula and then Stanford University, he worked at Ampex Corporation and was the chief designer of all electronic aspects of the first practical videotape recording system. Today, Dolby Laboratories' technologies are an essential part of the creative process for recording artists and filmmakers, who continue to use Dolby tools to bring their visions to life.

In the 48 years since Dr. Dolby founded Dolby Laboratories, the company has transformed the entertainment experience from the cinema to the living room to mobile entertainment. Tens of thousands of films and billions of products and devices with Dolby technologies have made their way to theaters, homes and consumers' hands around the world. The industry has awarded Dolby Laboratories with 10 Academy Awards and 13 Emmy Awards for its groundbreaking achievements throughout the years.

Dr. Dolby's awards and honors include The National Medal of Technology (1997), an Oscar (1989), several Emmy awards, including those for the invention of the Ampex video tape recorder and his work for Dolby Laboratories (1989, 2005), and a Grammy award (1995). Dolby also received medals from the Audio Engineering Society (AES) in 1971 and 1992 and was awarded the Edison Medal from the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) in 2010.

Together Dr. Dolby and his wife, Dagmar, were active in philanthropy and supported numerous causes and organizations. In recent years, two centers of science, research and patient care opened with their support, the Ray and Dagmar Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building at the University of San Francisco's Stem Cell Center and the Brain Health Center at California Pacific Medical Center.

Ray Dolby was born in Portland, Oregon in January 1933 and his family eventually moved to the San Francisco Peninsula. From 1949 to 1957, he worked on various audio and instrumentation projects at Ampex Corporation where he led the development of the electronic aspects of the Ampex videotape recording system. In 1957, he received a BS degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Upon being awarded a Marshall Scholarship and a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship, Dr. Dolby left Ampex for further study at Cambridge University in England. In 1960, he became the first American to be named a Fellow at Pembroke College. Dr. Dolby received a PhD degree in physics from Cambridge in 1961 and years later was elected an Honorary Fellow (1983). While at Cambridge he met his wife, Dagmar, who was there as a summer student in 1962. During his last year at Cambridge, Dr. Dolby also served as a consultant to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.

In 1963, Dr. Dolby took up a two-year appointment as a United Nations advisor in India, and then returned to England in 1965 and founded Dolby Laboratories in London. In 1976, he moved to San Francisco where the company established its headquarters, laboratories, and manufacturing facilities.

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

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