Sunday, September 15, 2013

Goodbye, Mr. Dolby!

First I heard the name Ray Dolby in the early 70's when I spent most of my time in recording studios. His company, Dolby Laboratories in London, introduced a new technology that produced cleaner, crisper sound by electronically reducing the hiss generated by analog tape recording. The Dolby noise-reduction technology quickly became a staple of all good studios. You could actually hear the difference. Film studios began adopting the system in the 1970s, beginning with Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film “A Clockwork Orange.” Dolby Laboratories introduced digital surround-sound technology to home entertainment in the 1980s. Dolby started his career already as a teenager when he was hired by Alexander Poniatoff, a Russian émigré and founder of Ampex, the pioneering maker of first class studio tape recorders. In his early twenties he developed the electronic components of the company’s videotape recording system. Then he left Ampex to graduate at Cambridge University in Britain where he met a German summer student, Dagmar Bäumert. They were still married when Ray Dolby died on Thursday at his home in San Francisco. He was 80.

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