Skip to main content

Sound pioneer Ray Dolby dies at 80

By Hilary Whiteman, CNN
September 13, 2013 -- Updated 0522 GMT (1322 HKT)
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
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1943 GMT (0343 HKT)
Three Americans detained in North Korea spoke out about their conditions and pleaded for U.S. help in interviews with CNN.
Hundreds of jihadis in Syria are from abroad -- which countries have the biggest problem?
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 0913 GMT (1713 HKT)
Libyan militia members have apparently turned the abandoned U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, into a water park.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
Obama's remarks that he didn't yet have a strategy for ISIS in Syria is widely criticized.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1126 GMT (1926 HKT)
A few miles south of the town of Starobeshevo in eastern Ukraine, a group of men in uniform is slumped under a tree.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1208 GMT (2008 HKT)
Beijing says only candidates approved by a nominating committee can run for Hong Kong's chief executive, prompting criticism.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0823 GMT (1623 HKT)
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 2220 GMT (0620 HKT)
In a major breach of privacy, a hacker leaked a series of pictures allegedly showing Jennifer Lawrence and other female celebrities in the nude.
Instead of weaving garments sold in the West, children should be in school
According to the International Labour Organization, there are 168 million child laborers around the world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT