Ray Dolby dies

The man who brought an end to tape hiss, Ray Dolby, has died. He was 80 years old.

Dolby was the inventor and engineer who founded Dolby Laboratories and pioneered noise-reducing and surround-sound technology.

Dolby had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in recent years and was diagnosed in July with acute leukaemia.

Dolby Laboratories president and chief executive Kevin Yeaman said in a statement that his company had lost a friend, mentor and true visionary.

Ray Dolby was born in Portland, Oregon and started inventing when he was attending high school in San Francisco and then at Stanford University.

Dolby first worked at Ampex, where he was the chief designer of the first practical videotape recording system. Following his time as a United Nations adviser in India, he returned to England and founded Dolby in London. In 1976, he moved the company HQ to San Francisco.

Dolby founded his own company in 1965 and grew it into an industry leader in audio technology. His work in noise reduction and surround sound turned Dolby into a rich man with an estimated fortune of $2.3 billion.

Ray Dolby held more than 50 patents and had received two Oscars for scientific and technical achievements, several Emmys and a Grammy.

He once said: “To be an inventor, you have to be willing to live with a sense of uncertainty, to work in the darkness and grope toward an answer, to put up with the anxiety about whether there is an answer”.

David Dolby, his son and a member of Dolby Laboratories’ board of directors said his father was a thoughtful, patient and loving man, determined to always do the right thing in business, philanthropy, and as a husband and father.

Ray Dolby is survived by his wife, Dagmar, his sons Tom and David, and four grandchildren.