It's always with heavy hearts what we pass along the news of a technology pioneer's passing (it happens more often than we like), and so it goes today with the announcement that Ray Dolby, a billionaire American inventor and founder of Dolby Laboratories, died Thursday at his home in San Francisco at the age of 80. Dr. Dolby was living with Alzheimer's Disease and also had been diagnosed in July with acute leukemia.
"Today we lost a friend, mentor and true visionary," said Kevin Yeaman, President and CEO, 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. Ray's ideals will continue to be a source of inspiration and motivation for us all."
Dr. Dolby was born in Portland, Oregon in January 1933. He and his family would later move to San Francisco, and from 1949 to 1957, he worked on a number of instrumentation projects at Ampex Corporation where he spearheaded the development of the electronic aspects of the Ampex videotape recording system.
It was in 1965 that he founded Dolby Laboratories, and since then, he's racked up a number of presigious awards and honors, including Silver (1971) and Gold (1992) medals from the Audio Engineering Society. In all, Dolby Laboratories has been awarded 10 Academy Awards and 13 Emmy Awards for various groundbreaking achievements during the company's past 48 years.
Outside of Dolby Laboratories, Dr. Dolby and his wife were active in philanthropy efforts. Most recently, the couple helped open two centers of science, research, and patient care, the Ray and Dagmar Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building at the University of San Francisco's Stem Cell Center and the Brain Health Center at California Pacific Medical Center.
Dr. Dolby is survived by his wife, Dagmar, his sons, Tom and David, their spouses, Andrew and Natasha, and four grandchildren. Rather than send flowers, his family asks that donations be made to the Alzheimer's Association, 1060 La Avenida Street, Mountain View, CA 49043, or the Brain Health Center, c/o CPMC Foundation, 45 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA 94117.