Audio engineer, inventor and philanthropist Ray Dolby died on 12 September in San Francisco, aged 80. He had been suffering from leukaemia.
Dolby began his career working a summer job at tape-technology developer Ampex Corporation, and helped create Ampex’s first audio tape deck in 1949 and its quadruplex videodeck in 1956. He founded Dolby Labs in the UK in 1965 and his first invention, the Dolby Sound System, arrived later that year.
Dolby moved the company headquarters to San Francisco in 1976, but was already enjoying success with his Noise Reduction technology which had quickly become the benchmark in recording studios. Dolby Stereo, Dolby ProLogic and Dolby Digital all followed, as did Dolby Surround 7.1 in 2010.
Dolby was made an OBE in 1986 and received an Oscar for his contributions to cinema in 1989. The APRS inducted him into its prestigious Sound Fellowship in 2008.
Dolby Laboratories mounted an IPO in 2005, and in the last couple of years, has set a new standard for immersive cinematic sound with the launch of Dolby ATMOS.
Acoustician Eddie Veale, who worked with Dolby and installed many of his Noise Reduction units into recording studios in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, made this tribute: “Ray Dolby, one of our most innovative and creative engineers, a true industry champion never flinching in adversity, true to his objectives and always raising standards. RIP.”