Sound innovator Ray Dolby has died at the age of 80 after a battle with Alzheimer's disease

Sound innovator Ray Dolby dies aged 80

American inventor and founder of Dolby Laboratories – a leading company in the audio industry, Ray Dolby, has died at the age of 80.

Gathering 50 US patents over his career, Dolby is acknowledged as the inventor of the entire industry around delivering sound experience. His work ranged from helping to reduce the hiss in cassette recordings to bringing Star Wars to life on the big screen in Dolby Stereo.

He was awarded several Emmys, two Oscars and one Grammy during his career.

According to a statement issued by Dolby Laboratories, the 80-year old engineer has passed away in his home in San Francisco after a years-long battle with Alzheimer's disease, having also struggled with leukaemia since this summer.

Dolby founded his namesake company in 1965 and grew it into an industry leader of audio technology. His work in noise reduction and surround sound led to the creation of a number of technologies that are still used in music, movies and entertainment today.

"Today we lost a friend, mentor and true visionary," Kevin Yeaman, president and chief executive of Dolby Laboratories, said.

"Ray really managed to have a dream job," said Dagmar Dolby, his wife of 47 years. "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, the USA, Dolby later moved to San Francisco where he studied at Stanford University and worked at Ampex Corporation, dealing with videotape recording systems.

After graduating from Stanford University, he left Ampex to study at Cambridge University in the UK. Following his time as a United Nations adviser in India, he returned to England and founded Dolby laboratories in London. In 1976, he moved to San Francisco where the company established its headquarters.

Dolby's co-workers described him as inspiring and thoughtful man, who cared passionately about engineering.

"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," he once said.

For his achievements, he was awarded the National Medal of Technology from President Bill Clinton and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in the US and the Royal Academy of Engineers in the UK.

Last year the theatre that serves as home to the Academy Awards was renamed the Dolby Theatre and the Ray Dolby Ballroom was named in his honour.

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