Ray Dolby

AMPEX Engineer/ Dolby Laboratories Founder


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tab

About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half hour Archive Interview, Ray Dolby (1933-2013) discusses his early interests in technology and music. He describes tinkering with tape recorders and starting to work at Ampex while still in high school (even getting national security clearance at age eighteen to work on classified projects). He talks of his main projects at Ampex, including developing an all electronic system for synchronizing sound, which resulted in his first patent. Dolby then discusses his work on the first video tape recorder, alongside fellow engineers Charles Ginsburg and Alexander M. Poniatoff. He chronicles creating a pulse FM system for modulating the signal going to video tape, and outlines the developments that made the recording system viable. He talks about creating Dolby Laboratories and developing his revolutionary noise reduction system. Dolby recalls the initial doubts from the sound industry about the usability of his system, explains how he adapted Dolby noise reduction for movie theaters, and recounts the reluctance of theater owners to use it. He speaks of the challenges of building his company and hiring the right people, talks of what it's like to be a household name, and shares how he'd like to be remembered. Karen Herman conducted the interview on March 26, 2007 in San Francisco, CA.

"Everybody laughed off what we were trying to do in creating a video recorder. You can't imagine the amount of snickering that went on in that late 1952 period when we were trying to build our first video tape recorder. Let's say we'd go into the lunch room or the coffee room to get a cup of coffee, and the other engineers would say, 'he's still working on that stuff? It's never gonna work.'"

Highlights
Ray Dolby on demonstrating his noise reduction system
00:33
Ray Dolby on developing a system for perfect lip sync
01:02
Ray Dolby on the basics of his noise reduction system
02:37
Ray Dolby on the Dolby logo and industry doubts about his process
01:42
Ray Dolby on his patents on the video tape recorder
03:26
Ray Dolby on being a household name
00:44
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early interests; on his early memories of television and tinkering with tape recorders; on seeing (and hearing) the Ampex 200 tape recorder for the first time
On his first project working at Ampex (while in high school); on attending San Jose State and Stanford University

Chapter 2

On some of his achievements at Ampex while still in high school; on getting national security clearance as a high school senior; on projects he worked on at Ampex and developing a system for perfect lip sync
On his working on government projects; on the Ampex model 380 and model 500; on developing an all electronic system for synchronizing sound and getting his first patent at Ampex
On the theory behind video tape recording; on the development of the video tape recorder

Chapter 3

On his early contributions to the video tape recorder; on his friendship and working relationship with fellow engineer Charles Ginsburg
On additional modifications to the video tape recorder; on reproducing the first pictures on video tape; on leaving Ampex to enter the Army and the video tape recording project coming to a halt
On continuing to think about video tape while away from Ampex; on correspondence with Charles Ginsburg; on what the price of the video tape recorder should be

Chapter 4

On returning to Ampex after the Army; on the revival of the video tape recording project; on creating a pulse FM system for modulating the signal going to video tape; on achieving encouraging results
On competition from RCA and other companies; on video tape recorder demonstrations in 1956 and the first home sales twenty years later in 1976
On demonstrations and the production of the Ampex video tape recorder; on the cost of the original production model ($50,000); on maintenance for the system; on the quality of the early video tape recordings; on putting Ampex on the map

Chapter 5

On his patents on the video tape recorder; on video tape transforming the way television was produced
On developing noise reduction and eliminating "hiss"; on patenting a noise reduction system; on Decca Records buying the Dolby system
On the basics of his noise reduction system; on the business model for his early Dolby systems (Dolby A and Dolby B); on how Ampex lost out to Sony in home video tape recorders
On creating Dolby Laboratories; on working for the UN in India; on demonstrating his noise reduction system and the manufacture and licensing of his systems

Chapter 6

On the advent of compact cassette tapes; on his Dolby logo and sound industry doubts about his process; on adapting Dolby noise reduction for motion pictures
On the reaction of theater owners to his sound system and the first films to use it; on achieving accuracy in sound and the then-future of sound in movies; on the future of sound in television

Chapter 7

On building his company; on his patents; on being a household name and how he'd like to be remembered
On B-roll photos and demonstrations of his innovations throughout his career
Topics

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Ray Dolby on the theory behind video tape recording and bringing the theory to life
05:39
Ray Dolby on developing an all electronic system for synchronizing sound and his first patent at Ampex
01:33
Ray Dolby on his early contributions to the video tape recorder
03:24
Ray Dolby on creating a pulse FM system for modulating the signal going to video tape
01:05
Ray Dolby on his patents on the video tape recorder
03:26
Ray Dolby on the basics of his noise reduction system
02:37
Ray Dolby on adapting Dolby noise reduction for motion pictures
09:55
Ray Dolby on how theater owners reacted to his movie sound system and the first films to use it
03:23
Ray Dolby on adapting to new digital sound formats
12:51
Ray Dolby on the then-future of sound on television
01:19
Professions

Engineer

View Profession
Ray Dolby on his early contributions to the video tape recorder
03:24
Ray Dolby on creating a pulse FM system for modulating the signal going to video tape
01:05
Ray Dolby on his patents on the video tape recorder
03:26
Ray Dolby on the basics of his noise reduction system
02:37
Ray Dolby on the then-current (2007) state of sound on television
01:27
Ray Dolby on the then-future of sound on television
01:18

Inventor

View Profession
Ray Dolby on his patents on the video tape recorder
03:26
Ray Dolby on the basics of his noise reduction system
02:37

Technology Innovators

View Profession
Ray Dolby on his early contributions to the video tape recorder
03:24
Ray Dolby on creating a pulse FM system for modulating the signal going to video tape
01:05
Ray Dolby on his patents on the video tape recorder
03:26
Ray Dolby on the basics of his noise reduction system
02:37
Ray Dolby on the then-current (2007) state of sound on television
01:27
Ray Dolby on the then-future of sound on television
01:18
People

David Sarnoff

View Person Page
Ray Dolby on David Sarnoff's announcements about RCA's achievements in video tape recording
01:13

All Interviews

Q
S