Ray Dolby passed on September 12 at the age of 80. SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Dolby Laboratories founder Dr. Ray Dolby died September 12 at his home in San Francisco at age 80. In 1965, Dolby founded Dolby Laboratories, whose major accomplishments include the development of noise-reduction and surround-sound technologies. He held more than 50 U.S. patents.
“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 company said. Dolby Laboratories has also won 10 Academy Awards and 13 Emmy Awards for its technologies, which are “an essential part of the creative process for recording artists and filmmakers,” according to the company. Early in his career, Dolby worked at Ampex Corp., where he was chief designer of all electronic aspects of the first practical videotape recording system, the company said.
In recent years, Dolby had been living with Alzheimer’s disease. In July, he was diagnosed with acute leukemia. “We lost a friend, mentor and true visionary,” said Kevin Yeaman, Dolby president/CEO. “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.”
Son Tom Dolby, a filmmaker and novelist, said that although his father “was an engineer at heart, my father’s achievements in technology grew out of a love of music and the arts. He brought his appreciation of the artistic process to all of his work in film and audio recording.”
Ray Dolby and his wife, Dagmar, were active in philanthropy. In recent years, two centers of science, research and patient care opened with their help. They are 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.
Dolby’s awards and honors include the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton in 1997, the Order of Officer of the British Empire (O.B.E.) from Queen Elizabeth II in 1987, an honorary doctorate of science at Cambridge University in 1997, and an honorary doctorate from the University of York in 1999.
He also received the Audio Engineering Society’s Silver and Gold Medals in 1971 and 1992, respectively, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers’ Edison Medal in 2010. As a former Marshall Scholar, he was awarded the George C. Marshall Award in 2003.
Dolby is survived by his wife, Dagmar, his sons, Tom and David, their spouses, Andrew and Natasha, and four grandchildren.