Akron, OH (May 5, 2004)–Ray Dolby was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 1, in recognition of his invention of the Dolby noise reduction system which electronically reduces the tape hiss and other noise inherent in analog audio tape recording and playback.
“Ray Dolby changed the face of the recording industry with his noise reduction system. The multitrack recording techniques that blossomed in the late 1960s and early 1970s would have been impossible without Dolby’s invention because the tape hiss would have been intolerable,” said Fred Allen, head of the Selection Committee for the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation. “And today, applied to consumer formats and motion picture sound, the results are even more far-reaching. With the removal of tape noise, cinema sound became higher fidelity and paved the way for even more sophisticated surround sound formats like Dolby Stereo.”
With Dolby noise reduction, sound is passed through an encoder as it is recorded, and then played back through a decoder, dramatically lowering background noise and hiss added by the recording process with none of the side effects inherent in previous attempts at noise reduction.
At a ceremony on Saturday at the National Inventors Hall of Fame headquarters in Akron, OH, Dolby–along with nineteen other inventors including Frederick Banting, Charles Best, and James Collip, the inventors of insulin; Harry Coover, the inventor of Superglue; Ivan Getting and Bradford Parkinson, co-inventors of Global Positioning Systems–joined such legendary inventors as Alexander Graham Bell, Eli Whitney, and Thomas Edison in the National Inventors Hall of Fame. To qualify for this distinction, an inductee’s invention must have contributed to the welfare of society and have promoted the progress of science and the useful arts. All nominations are reviewed by the National Inventors Hall of Fame Selection Committee, comprising representatives from national science and technology organizations.
Ray Dolby received a BS in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1957 and a PhD in physics from Cambridge University in 1961. He founded Dolby Laboratories in 1965 to further develop his ideas about noise reduction. By 1967, major record labels such as Decca in the UK and RCA, MCA, and CBS in the U.S. were using Dolby noise reduction.
For nearly 40 years, Ray and Dolby Laboratories have continued to innovate and lead sound technology. Highlights include Dolby Stereo, the first Dolby multichannel surround sound format for the cinema which gained widespread recognition with the release Star Wars in 1977. Dolby then brought surround sound to the home in the early ’80s with the invention of Dolby Surround and Dolby Surround Pro Logic. The company’s reputation as a leader in audio technology was greatly enhanced in 1986 with the introduction of Dolby SR (spectral recording), a powerful new system which improved existing professional analog recorders to equal, and in some respects surpass, very costly digital recorders. In 1992, Dolby Digital was introduced for multichannel applications, including film sound and digital surround sound in the home.
Today, Dolby Laboratories continues to bring the entertainment experience forward with such remarkable technologies as Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Headphone, Dolby Virtual Speaker, and Dolby Pro Logic II. Dolby technologies have applications in audio recording and post-production, cinema, home theater, television broadcasting, PCs, videogames, automobiles, and personal computers.
Dolby Laboratories has licensed over 1.5 billion consumer products, including over 500 million products incorporating Dolby Digital and almost 200 million home theater systems incorporating Dolby technology. Additionally, the company has been granted 780 patents in 28 countries and 771 trademark registrations in 96 countries. Dolby films are mixed in 50 countries.