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September 13, 2013

Ray Dolby, Sound Industry Icon

Dolby's pioneering work in audio had an enormous impact on the film, television and music industries, with his last name becoming synonymous with the highest-quality sound in all fields.

  • Ray Dolby

Ray Dolby, the inventor and engineer who founded Dolby Laboratories and pioneered sound technology widely used in the film, television and recording industries, died September 12, 2013, in San Francisco. He was 80. According to news reports, Dolby had Alzheimer's disease, and in July of this year had been diagnosed with leukemia.

Dolby was born in Portland, Oregon, and grew up in San Francisco. He showed an aptitude for science at an early age and developed an interest in recording technology while working with the audio company Ampex, where he got his start while still in his teens. He went on to attend San Jose State University, Stanford University and Cambridge University in England. After Cambridge, Dolby worked as a technical advisor to the United Nations in India.

In 1965 he returned to England, where he founded Dolby Laboratories. The same year, he invented the Dolby Sound System, although his first U.S. patent was not filed until 1969. He moved his company to San Francisco in 1976.

Dolby Laboratories became a world leader in audio technology; its many achievements included the reduction of background hiss in tape recording and what became known as "surround sound." Over the course of his career, Ray Dolby acquired more than 50 patents and received two Oscars for scientific and technical achievement, several Emmys and a Grammy.

Read more about his life and work at:

Archive of American Television

Los Angeles Times


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