Surround sound pioneer Ray Dolby dies aged 80

The audio engineer founded Dolby Laboratories, which invented technology to cut background hiss in tape recordings

Ray Dolby, the man who invented surround sound, has died aged 80.

Dolby, who founded Dolby Laboratories and pioneered noise reduction in tape recordings, had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for several years and was diagnosed with leukemia this summer, the BBC reports. He died in San Francisco.

Dolby was born in Portland, Oregon, and grew up in San Francisco. While he was still a student he got his first job at Ampex Corporation, where he worked on developing early videotape recording systems.


After finishing up a PhD at Cambridge University, he founded Dolby Laboratories in London in 1965, where it soon became a leader in audio technology, inventing surround sound and cutting background hiss in tape recordings.

Dolby later moved the company to his native San Francisco in 1976. In 1989 he won an Oscar for his contributions to cinema. He won a Grammy in 1995 and two Emmy awards in 1989 and 2005.

Speaking about his legacy, Dolby’s son Tom Dolby told the BBC: “Though he was an engineer at heart, my father’s achievements in technology grew out of a love of music and the arts.” He added: “He brought his appreciation of the artistic process to all of his work in film and audio recording.”