By Sandra Birungi
The founder of Dolby Laboratories, Ray Dolby has died aged 80.
An American inventor and audio pioneer, Dolby died in his home at San Francisco according to the company in their announcement yesterday on Thursday. Before being diagnosed with acute leukemia this year, Dolby was living with Alzheimer’s disease for several years.
Dolby founded Dolby Laboratories in 1965 and grew it into an industry leader in audio technology. His work in noise reduction and surround sound led to the creation of a number of technologies that are still used in music, movies and entertainment to date.
“Today we lost a friend, mentor and true visionary,” Kevin Yeaman, President and CEO of Dolby Laboratories, said in a statement.
Dolby held 50 U.S. patents and won a number of notable awards for his life’s work, including several Emmys, two Oscars and a Grammy. He was awarded the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in the U.S. and the Royal Academy of Engineers in the UK, among many more honors.
“Ray really managed to have a dream job,” said Dagmar Dolby, his wife of 47 years. “Because he could do exactly what he wanted to do, whichever way he wanted to do it, and in the process, did a lot of good for many music and film lovers. And in the end, built a very successful company.”
Born in Portland, Ore., Ray and his family moved to the San Francisco Peninsula where he started his professional work at Ampex Corp. working on videotape recording systems while he was still a student. Graduating from Stanford University, he left Ampex to study at Cambridge University. He later returned to England after his time as a United Nations adviser in India and founded Dolby in London.
“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,” Dolby once said.
He is survived by his wife, Dagmar, his sons, Tom and David, their spouses, Andrew and Natasha, and four grandchildren.