Skip to main content

Sound pioneer Ray Dolby dies at 80

By Hilary Whiteman, CNN
updated 1:22 AM EDT, Fri September 13, 2013
Click through to see<a href='http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/world/obituaries-2013'> people who passed away</a> in 2013. Click through to see people who passed away in 2013.
HIDE CAPTION
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
100
101
102
103
104
105
106
107
108
109
110
111
112
113
114
115
116
117
118
119
120
121
122
123
124
125
126
127
128
129
130
131
132
133
134
135
136
137
138
139
140
141
142
143
144
145
146
147
148
149
150
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pioneer in surround sound, noise reduction dies at 80
  • Ray Dolby revolutionized audio recordings to make them clearer, crisper
  • He founded Dolby Laboratories in 1965
  • Dolby thought of himself as an adventurer first

(CNN) -- Ray Dolby, the American inventor who changed the way people listen to sound in their homes, on their phones and in cinemas, died Thursday in San Francisco.

Dolby was 80.

The founder of Dolby Laboratories had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for a number of years, and in July was diagnosed with acute leukemia.

"Today we lost a friend, mentor and true visionary," said Kevin Yeaman, the company's president and CEO.

Dolby founded the company in London in 1965, and in the following decades it built on his pioneering work in surround sound and noise reduction, which removed the annoying "hiss" from audio recordings.

Dolby holds more than 50 U.S. patents for many state-of-the-art technologies. Now based in San Francisco, the company has earned dozens of industry plaudits including 19 Academy and 13 Emmy Awards.

Dolby's work earned so much admiration from the film industry that last year the Hollywood landmark known as the "home of the Academy Awards" was renamed Dolby Theatre. After each annual star-studded ceremony, the world's leading actors and actresses toast the occasion in the Ray Dolby Ballroom.

"With Dolby Laboratories, his passion for sound led to innovations that have changed the way we listen to music and movies for nearly 50 years," said Neil Portnow, President and CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Inventions were part of my life, but they didn't overtake everything that I was doing.
Ray Dolby

"His technologies have become an essential part of the creative process for recording artists and filmmakers, ensuring his remarkable legacy for generations to come."

Mix tape, anyone? The cassette turns 50

While his work earned him fame and fortune, Dolby considered himself an adventurer at heart.

"I wanted the experience of traveling to many parts of the world. Inventions were part of my life, but they didn't overtake everything that I was doing," he said in quotes released by the company.

His wife of 47 years, Dagmar, described him as "generous, patient, intellectually honest" and a fantastic role model for their two sons, Tom and David.

"I think he was the happiest when we would be on the boat, and the waves got really high and the weather forecast was really bad -- that was all the more challenge for him," she said.

Tom Dolby, a filmmaker and novelist, said: "Though he 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."

Dolby was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1933 and started his career at Ampex Corp., where he led the development of the electronic aspects of the Ampex videotape recording system.

He earned his first degree in electrical engineering at Stanford University, before moving to Cambridge in the UK to study physics. While there, he became the first American to be named a fellow at Pembroke College.

After graduating, Dolby moved to India for a two-year stint as a United Nations adviser before returning to London to set up his company. In 2004, Dolby was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in the U.S. and the Royal Academy of Engineers in the UK.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:45 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
updated 7:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
updated 5:26 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
updated 5:54 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
updated 9:16 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT