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Audio engineer Ray Dolby passes away

Audio engineer Ray Dolby passes away

THE death has taken place of Ray Dolby who gave his name to a key process found in sound systems in many homes and cinemas across the world. He was 80.

The American engineer founded Dolby Laboratories and developed a way of reducing noise on audio recordings.

While still at High School, Mr. Dolby had begun to work part-time for the Ampex Corporation in California. In the mid-1950s, while studying at Stanford University, he joined other experts at Ampex to develop the first videotape recording systems with the young Dolby being mostly responsible for the design of the electronic elements of the system.

After graduating from Stanford, Mr. Dolby completed his PhD at Cambridge University before spending two years as a U.N. advisor in India. He returned to England in 1965 and established Dolby Laboratories in London, moving the company to San Francisco in the mid-1970s.

The company became an industry leader in audio technology, developing ways of cutting background “hiss” in recordings and introducing ‘Surround Sound’. The Dolby developments were incorporated in sound systems used across the world.

His work won him many awards. In 1989, he and another Dolby executive, Ioan Allen, were awarded an Oscar for their contribution to cinema. He also received Emmy Awards in 1989 and 2005, as well as a Grammy Award in 1995.

Mr. Dolby, who held more than 50 U.S. patents, retired from his company’s board in 2011. In recent years he had been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and had recently been diagnosed with leukaemia. He passed away in San Francisco.

Tributes were led by the President of Dolby Laboratories, Kevin Yeaman, who described the company’s founder as a “true visionary”.

He continued: “Ray 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.”

To view an excerpt from an archive interview with Mr. Dolby, click here.

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