Dolby revolutionized the audio industry in the 1960s by inventing
the Dolby System, which electronically reduced the pervasive "hiss"
from analog tape sound recording, creating a clearer, crisper
sound. With the Dolby System, sound is passed through a switchless,
knobless encoder as it is recorded, then played back through a
decoder, dramatically lowering background noise and hiss with
none of the side effects inherent in previous attempts at noise
Dolby was born in Portland, Oregon. He received a B.S. in electrical
engineering from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in physics from
Cambridge University. While recording traditional local music
for UNESCO in India, Dolby conceived his noise reduction idea.
He founded Dolby Laboratories in 1965 to further develop his invention.
The following year, Decca Records became the first recording company
to use the Dolby System. By 1967, major record labels such as
RCA, MCA, and CBS followed suit. The latter half of the 1970s
saw the use of Dolby technology in film production and exhibition,
and in movies such as Apocalypse Now and Star Wars.