Landmarks in Dolby Stereo films


Ray Dolby, the engineer who revolutionized sound recording and reproduction in the studio, in films, and in home sound systems.

Dolby Labs

Ray Dolby, the engineer and inventor who helped revolutionize movie soundtracks, died at his home in San Francisco Thursday, September 12, 2013, at the age of 80.

Born in Portland, Ore., Dolby studied at Stanford and Cambridge Universities before founding Dolby Laboratories in London. The company (which he later moved to California) became an industry leader in audio technology -- creating and improving recording and reproduction systems for music and film studios, theaters, and home and car audio.

Much of the initial success was in Dolby's noise reduction processes, which eliminated tape hiss from recordings and playback and improved the viability of tape cassettes for home audio.

Its greatest success, however, and what made the name Dolby recognizable to the vast public, was in bringing noise reduction to the movies, boosting dynamic range, and making sound as much a marketing component for cinemas in the 1970s and 1980s as visual effects.


A 35mm anamorphic frame from "Star Wars" shows the Dolby Stereo optical soundtrack (along with encoded Dolby Digital information between the sprocket holes). Though not the first film released in the format, "Star Wars" made the sound system popular among the public - and an industry standard.

20th Century Fox

Click through each page of this article to view and hear video clips from landmark films released with Dolby sound formats. (Headphones required!)

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at and