Your Home Theater System Bible

Ray Dolby, Surround Sound Foreruner, Dies At Age 80

home theatre_ray dolby“I was so far ahead in my credits that I didn’t have to worry about getting into college, so I went to school three hours a day and worked five at Ampex.”

Those were the words of the genius behind and founder of Dolby Laboratories, Ray Milton Dolby. Dolby, who also initiated noise reduction in audio recordings, died in San Francisco at the age of 80 in his home in September 12. For a number of years he had been living with Alzheimer’s disease. He later succumbed to an acute leukemia.

Dolby was born on Jan. 18, 1933, in Portland, Oregon, and was brought up in the San Francisco. He graduated from Stanford University in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. However, it was at the age of 16, (which, was in 1949) while Dolby was still in high school, that he started off at Ampex as a volunteer to run a film projector for the founder and president of the company, Alexander Poniatoff. Poniatoff made an agreement with Dolby’s high school to let the youngster attend school for just three hours a day while working five hours a day for $300 a week in Ampex’s engineering department. By 1951, the 18-year-old Dolby has already earned national security clearance while working on the equipment for the Naval Ordinance Laboratory. Later, however, Dolby had to leave Ampex to travel to Britain and finish his PhD. In 1965, after completing his PhD at the Cambridge University in the UK, he came to London to establish Dolby Laboratories.

Even at the onset, Dolby has decided that the company would produce professional audio products only, as well as license technologies that were appropriate for consumer applications. From then on, many Dolby advances have set the standards for entertainment technology in the professional and even the consumer markets.

Today, from the cinema to one’s living room, Dolby has totally changed the entertainment experience. Dolby technologies can now be found in cinemas, professional recording studios, video games, laser discs, DVDs, mobile media, digital broadcast TV, digital cable, home theatres and satellite systems.

Dolby is a name to remember that even after his death his name will still leave a mark in every household. Just as what Dolby President and CEO Kevin Yeaman has said with regards to the demise of Ray Dolby, “today we lost a friend, mentor and true visionary. Ray Dolby founded the company based on a commitment to creating value through innovation and an impassioned belief that if you invested in people and gave them the tools for success they would create great things. Ray’s ideals will continue to be a source of inspiration and motivation for us all.”

During his lifetime, Dolby held 50 US patents and has also been awarded music’s Grammy award 1995 and Emmy’s for his TV works in 1989 and 2005 for his remarkable inputs to cinema.

In later years Dolby took a back seat role and, instead focused on philanthropy efforts across the globe together with his wife, Dagmar.

Dolby is survived by his wife, Dagmar, his sons, Tom and David, and their spouses, Andrew and Natasha, and their four grandchildren.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Posted on September 20, 2013 by 0 Comments Short URL


Alphonso Soosay, an accomplished musician and sound recording specialist has been in the industry for more than 30 years. In this blog Alphonso shares all his experiences and knowledge in the recording and home theatre industry. Alphonso Soosay's Blog

Enjoy this post? 

Share it!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>