Ray Dolby, audio pioneer, dies aged 80

SAN FRANCISCO - Ray Dolby, who pioneered noise-reducing and surround-sound audio technologies which are fundamental to the music and film industries, has died aged 80, the company which bears his name announced Thursday.

Dolby had suffered from Alzheimer's Disease for a number of years, and was diagnosed with acute leukemia last July, it said, adding that the Oscar-winning scientist died at home in San Francisco.

"Today we lost a friend, mentor and true visionary," said Kevin Yeaman, President and CEO of Dolby Laboratories, the company which the young Dolby created in 1965.

"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.

He added: "Ray's ideals will continue to be a source of inspiration and motivation for us all."

Graduating from high school in San Francisco and from Stanford University, Dolby became chief designer at Ampex Corporation, developing the electronic side of the first practical videotape recording system, the company said.

After founding his own company in his early 30s he went on to spend decades developing technologies that have become the audio gold standard in recording and movie studios.

He held over 50 US patents, including most recently for his Atmos system, which sends commands to individual speakers, so that sounds - whether rain drops, footsteps or explosions - appear to come from specific spots in a movie theatre.

Last year, his firm sealed a deal to have its name on the venue of the annual Academy Awards, rebranding it as the Dolby Theatre after bankrupt camera company Kodak was forced to end its sponsorship of the Hollywood landmark.

Over the years Dolby and his company won 10 Oscars and 13 Emmy Awards for its groundbreaking achievements.

"My father was a thoughtful, patient and loving man, determined to always do the right thing in business, philanthropy, and as a husband and father," said David Dolby, son and member of Dolby Laboratories' Board of Directors.

"Our family is very proud of his achievements and leadership. He will be sorely missed, but his legacy of innovation will live on."

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