San Francisco - Sep 12, 2013 - Audio engineer and inventor Dr. Ray Dolby has died. Dolby is credited with pioneering audio achievements including noise-reduction technology for analog media and surround sound. Dolby had been living with Alzheimer's disease in recent years and was diagnosed in July with acute leukemia.
Dolby founded Dolby Laboratories in 1965 and created an environment where scientists and engineers continue to advance the science of sight and sound to make entertainment and communications more engaging. Dolby''s pioneering work in noise reduction and surround sound led to the development of many state-of-the-art technologies, for which he holds more than 50 U.S. patents.
Dolby was known for his insatiable curiosity and attributed his success to a quest for education fostered by supportive parents. Early in his career, while attending high school on the San Francisco Peninsula and then Stanford University, he worked at Ampex Corporation and was the chief designer of all electronic aspects of the first practical videotape recording system.
"Though he was an engineer at heart, my father's achievements in technology grew out of a love of music and the arts," said Tom Dolby, son, filmmaker, and novelist. "He brought his appreciation of the artistic process to all of his work in film and audio recording."
Among Dr. Dolby''s awards and honors are:
■ The National Medal of Technology from President Clinton (1997)
■ The Order of Officer of the British Empire (O.B.E.) by Queen Elizabeth II (1987)
■ Honorary Doctorate – of Science (Cambridge University 1997)
■ Honorary Doctorate (University of York 1999)
Dr. Dolby was awarded the following industry awards:
■ Oscar statuette from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1989)
■ Oscar Class II (plaque) from A.M.P.A.S. (1979)
■ Several Emmys from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, including for the invention of the Ampex video tape recorder and his work for Dolby Laboratories. (1989, 2005)
■ Grammy from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (1995)
■ Berlin Film Festival Berlinale Kamera Award (2012)
■ San Francisco Film Society George Gund III Award (2013)
Dr. Dolby also received medals from the following professional institutions:
■ Audio Engineering Society (AES) Silver (1971) and Gold (1992) Medals
■ Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Edison Medal (2010)
As a former Marshall Scholar, Ray Dolby was also awarded the George C. Marshall Award in 2003. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in the U.S. and the Royal Academy of Engineers in the UK in 2004.
In 2012, the iconic Hollywood landmark known to the world as the home of the Academy Awards was renamed the Dolby Theatre and the site of the post-Oscars gala was renamed the Ray Dolby Ballroom in honor of Dr. Dolby.
Dolby and his wife Dagmar were active in philanthropy and supported numerous causes and organizations. In recent years, two centers of science, research and patient care opened with their support, the Ray and Dagmar Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building at the University of San Francisco's Stem Cell Center and the Brain Health Center at California Pacific Medical Center.
Ray Dolby was born in Portland, OR, in January 1933 and his family eventually moved to the San Francisco Peninsula. From 1949 to 1957, he worked on various audio and instrumentation projects at Ampex Corporation where he led the development of the electronic aspects of the Ampex videotape recording system. In 1957, he received a BS degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Upon being awarded a Marshall Scholarship and a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship, Dolby left Ampex for further study at Cambridge University in England. In 1960, Dolby became the first American to be named a Fellow at Pembroke College. Dolby received a PhD degree in physics from Cambridge in 1961 and years later was elected an Honorary Fellow (1983). While at Cambridge he met his wife, Dagmar, who was there as a summer student in 1962. During his last year at Cambridge, Dolby also served as a consultant to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.
In 1963, Dolby took up a two-year appointment as a United Nations advisor in India, and then returned to England in 1965 and founded Dolby Laboratories in London. In 1976, he moved to San Francisco where the company established its headquarters, laboratories, and manufacturing facilities.
Dolby has posted a tribute to the company founder.