Ray Dolby, Founder of Famed Sound Technology, Dead at 80

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Dolby’s noise-reduction and surround-sound innovations led to more than 50 U.S. patents for state-of-the-art technologies

Ray Dolby, the founder of iconic sound system provider Dolby Laboratories, has died in San Francisco, the company announced Thursday. He was 80.

Dolby had been living with Alzheimer’s Disease and was diagnosed with acute leukemia in July, the company said.

“Today we lost a friend, mentor and true visionary,” said Kevin Yeaman, president and CEO of Dolby Laboratories. “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.”

Dolby invented the Dolby sound system in 1965 and received his first patent in 1969.

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He launched his own company only after working at Ampex for several years and receiving degrees from Stanford University and Cambridge University. He received a PhD in physics from Cambridge.

While at Ampex, Dolby was the chief designer of all electronic aspects of the first practical videotape recording system.

Dolby was born in 1933 in Portland, Ore., and later moved to San Francisco. He first launched Dolby in London but moved to company to San Francisco in 1976. He served as the chairman of its Board of Directors until 2009, and retired from the board in 2011.

Dolby Laboratories has been awarded with 10 Academy Awards and 13 Emmys — and the name “Dolby” became synonymous with the Oscars last year, the first in which the name christened the Dolby Theatre.