The Art & Science of Sound

Remembering Raymond Dolby

By Jack Sharkey. September 13, 2013.

Sad news yesterday on the passing of audio pioneer Raymond Dolby. His contributions to the audio industry include the noise reduction circuitry that revolutionized the way we listen to (and record) music, and his Dolby Laboratories also had a profound affect on how we watch movies and television. While you're watching a movie this weekend, either at home or in a theater, chances are you're listening to the result of years of innovation and research from Dolby Laboratories.

A History of Audio Innovation (Courtesy of Dolby Laboratories)

"The story of Dolby Laboratories is the story of advancement in entertainment technology. The timeline below outlines the important milestones of that advancement."

1965: Dolby introduces A-type® noise reduction for the professional market.

1968: Dolby introduces Dolby B-type® noise reduction for consumer products.

1970: Advent, Fisher, and Harman Kardon begin offering cassette tape recorders with Dolby B-type noise reduction.

1971: Dolby and Signetics create a simplified Dolby B-type integrated circuit, widening the range of products in which the technology could be used.

1975: Dolby introduces Dolby Stereo®, a highly practical 35 mm stereo optical release print format.

1977: Dolby receives acclaim with the release of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, both in Dolby Stereo.

1981: First product with Dolby C-type noise reduction reaches market.

1982: Dolby introduces Dolby Surround, which encodes the two tracks of any stereo source with four-channel surround sound.

1984: Dolby releases Dolby AC-1, its first digital coding system.

1986: Dolby SR (spectral recording) improves analog recorder performance to equal, and in some respects surpass, costly digital recorders.

1987: Dolby Pro Logic® surround elevates the home cinema experience with four-channel surround sound.

1989: Dolby introduces Dolby AC-2, allowing separate facilities to do full professional-quality audio monitoring and dubbing remotely via ISDN lines.

1991: New multichannel audio coding system, Dolby AC-3, announced. Now known as Dolby Digital, its first application is as a sound format for films.

1995: First consumer products with Dolby Digital playback compatibility announced.

1998: First video game with interactive Dolby Digital 5.1 audio launched. Dolby Headphone technology announced.

1999: Codecs featuring new Dolby E for DTV multichannel audio production and distribution debut.

2000: Dolby Pro Logic II technology announced.

2002: Dolby Virtual Speaker technology introduced for consumers lacking the space for a dedicated 5.1-channel playback system.

2005: Dolby TrueHD lossless coding for high-definition video discs debuts.

2007: Dolby 3D Digital Cinema demonstrated to film industry.

2009: Dolby Axon brings 3D voice communication to online games.

2010: First public demonstration of 5.1-channel surround sound on a mobile phone using Dolby Mobile technology. Dolby Surround 7.1 is unveiled for digital cinemas. Dolby PRM-4200 Professional Reference Monitor for postproduction facilities is announced.

2011: Dolby enables 7.1 surround sound for streaming media.

2012: Dolby Atmos™, a new audio platform that changes the experience of sound in entertainment, debuts to the cinema industry. The Dolby Theatre℠, the iconic Hollywood landmark known to the world as the home of the Academy Awards®, is unveiled as the world's stage for entertainment sound.

Here are two pieces about the life and legacy of Raymond Dolby from people who worked closely with him:

Brent Butterworth in

Robert Silva in

Thanks to Raymond Dolby for all of his insight and contributions to the world of audio.

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