13 Sep 2013

Sound engineer pioneer Dolby dies

11:08 pm on 13 September 2013

Ray Dolby, the engineer who pioneered the noise reduction in audio recordings that produced clearer sound for music and cinema, has died at the age of 80.

Dolby, whose name became synonymous with home sound systems and cinema, won an Oscar, a Grammy and two Emmys for his work.

He died at his home in San Francisco after suffering from Alzheimer's disease in recent years and leukaemia since July.

Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, which hands out the Grammy Awards, said Mr Dolby's innovations had "changed the way we listen to music and movies for nearly 50 years".

"His technologies have become an essential part of the creative process for recording artists and filmmakers, ensuring his remarkable legacy for generations to come."

Mr Dolby was born in Portland, Oregon, and grew up in the San Francisco area. He began his career in the Ampex Corporation, helping to develop early videotape recording systems while he was still a student.

He then went on to complete his PhD at Cambridge University in England and in 1965 founded Dolby Laboratories in London.

The company grew to be an industry leader in audio technology, cutting background hiss in tape recordings and later bringing out "surround sound", reports the BBC.

Mr Dolby moved his company to San Francisco in 1976 and in 1989 was awarded an Oscar for his contributions to cinema. He shared the award with Dolby executive Ioan Allen. He also received a Grammy award in 1995 and Emmy awards in 1989 and 2005.

Dolby Laboratories president Kevin Yeaman described Ray Dolby as a "true visionary".

Mr Dolby's son, filmmaker and novelist Tom Dolby, said: "Though he was an engineer at heart, my father's achievements in technology grew out of a love of music and the arts.