Ray Dolby

The sage of stereo

Films are more than just moving pictures. Sound, from songs to swishing swords to crashing cars, brings cinema to life. And without Ray Dolby, who died at 80 on Sept. 12, those sounds wouldn't have achieved the immersive magic to which moviegoers are now accustomed.

When Dolby founded his namesake audio lab in 1965, his first goal was to eliminate tape hiss, an annoying buzz that plagued magnetic recording. The noise-reduction system he arrived at put his company on the map. By the early 1970s, it had adapted the process for film and introduced what we know as surround sound. Rather...

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