You know his name, even if you don’t understand why it’s stamped on every device, movie poster and CD you’ve purchased in the last 30 years.
He was Ray Dolby, founder of Dolby Laboratories. Mr. Dolby died today in San Francisco at the age of 80, according to the company. Mr. Dolby had been diagnosed with leukemia in July, as well as living with Alzheimer’s disease.
Ray Dolby held several dozen patents for his audio inventions and was honored by numerous bodies, including the RIAA and the MPAA. Most consumers that benefited from his technology were never quite sure what it was that made the name “Dolby” so ubiquitous. It was even a joke in the 1984 film Spinal Tap when the lead singer’s girlfriend complains that the band’s album bombed because “you don’t do heavy metal in ‘dubly’.”
“Dubly” and Dolby’s work on noise reduction for analog magnetic tape recording made Ray Dolby a billionaire several times over. “I was never a gold-digger, or an Oscar-digger, or anything like that,” Dolby said. “I just had an instinct about the right sort of things that should be done in my business. So all these things just fell into place.”
Dolby Labs have released the video, embedded above, in tribute to their founder.