Man who revolutionized motion pictures with 'Dolby Sound' dies at 80
Ray Dolby changed the way world listens to the movies
Anyone who goes to a movie today is usually treated to a brief introduction to the theater's sound system. Sound leaps from all directions before ending with a melodious crash, followed by the credit - "In Dolby Sound." Ray Dolby, who revolutionized how the world listens to movies, has died at the age of 80.
Ray Dolby is survived by his wife, Dagmar, his sons, Tom and David, their spouses, Andrew and Natasha, and four grandchildren.
Dolby founded the company that bore his name in 1965. The company grew it into an industry leader in audio technology.
Dolby's contributions to noise reduction and surround sound led to the creation of a number of technologies that are still used in music and movies today. Forbes magazine estimated that Dolby had an estimated personal worth of $2.3 billion.
"Today we lost a friend, mentor and true visionary," Kevin Yeaman, president and CEO of Dolby Laboratories, said in a statement. He added that Dolby invented an entire industry around delivering an experience in sound.
There's little question that the classic motion picture "Star Wars" owes a big debt to Dolby, bringing it to life to life on the big screen in Dolby Stereo.
Holding 50 U.S. Patents, Dolby 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 Bill Clinton and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in the U.S. and the Royal Academy of Engineers in the U.K., among other honors.
The theater that hosts the annual Academy Awards was renamed the Dolby Theater in 2012 - and the Ray Dolby Ballroom was named in his honor.
"Ray really managed to have a dream job," Dagmar Dolby, his longtime wife said.
"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, Oregon, Dolby's family eventually moved to the San Francisco peninsula. It was there that he started his professional work at Ampex Corp. working on videotape recording systems while he was still a student.
After graduating from Stanford University, he continued his studies at Cambridge University. Following his time as a United Nations adviser in India, he returned to England and founded Dolby in London. He moved to San Francisco in 1976 where the company established its headquarters.
"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 had been quoted as saying.
He is survived by his wife, Dagmar, his sons, Tom and David, their spouses, Andrew and Natasha, and four grandchildren.
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