Sound technology pioneer Ray Dolby dies

Some of the sound technologies developed by his company found their way into PCs, mobile phones and other consumer devices

Ray Dolby, an American inventor known for leading work in the area of noise reduction and surround sound, died Thursday at the age of 80 at his home in San Francisco.

Dolby, who had been living with Alzheimer's disease in recent years, was diagnosed in July with acute leukemia, according to Dolby Laboratories, the company he founded 48 years ago.

Holding more than 50 U.S. patents, Dolby transformed the company in line with market changes, and its technology has made its way into cinema, homes, PCs and mobile entertainment.

Chinese vendor ZTE, for example, acquired in June a worldwide patent license for Dolby's portfolio covering High-Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding (HE AAC), an international standard used and licensed from Dolby by a number of mobile vendors. SingTel said in January it will use Dolby Digital Plus technology to deliver cinema-quality surround sound on Mio TV, its IPTV platform.

Dolby was born in Portland, Ore., in 1933, and his family eventually moved to the San Francisco Peninsula. From 1949 to 1957 he worked at Ampex, including on the electronics of videotape recording systems. In 1957, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University and in 1961, he was awarded a doctorate in physics from Cambridge in 1961.

The audio pioneer won medals from the Audio Engineering Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers among other honors.

Ray Dolby
Ray Dolby sits in a studio in this undated photo. (Photo: Dolby Laboratories)

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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