Cambridge college receives £35m from Dolby sound inventor

Ray Dolby Image copyright Ryan Miller/AP
Image caption The audio pioneer died at his home in San Francisco on 12 September 2013

The Dolby sound inventor has left £35m to his former Cambridge college in "the largest single gift so far" to the university's fundraising campaign.

US-born Ray Dolby received his PhD from Cambridge University and was a research fellow at Pembroke College. He also met his wife Dagmar at the university.

His San Francisco-based laboratories "revolutionised the audio quality of music".

The gift will be used to create the Ray and Dagmar Dolby Court.

Image copyright Cambridge University
Image caption Ray Dolby received a PhD in physics from Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he was also a research fellow

A spokesman for the university said Pembroke College and three other yet-to-be-confirmed colleges are hoping to "pursue a joint development of the historic Mill Lane and Old Press site" with "the intention to provide new graduate accommodation for the four colleges".

Mr Dolby died aged 80 in 2013.

Mrs Dolby said the university "played a pivotal role in Ray's life, both personally and professionally... and we also began a wonderful lifetime together there".

Who was Ray Dolby?

  • He was born in Portland, Oregon in 1933
  • After graduating from Stamford University, he went to Cambridge University on a Marshall Scholarship
  • He founded Dolby Laboratories in London in 1965, where he invented the Dolby System
  • This improved the quality of recorded sound
  • He moved his company to San Francisco in 1976
  • Thousands of films and billions of products have featured Dolby technologies


The university and colleges of Cambridge launched a £2bn fundraising campaign in October.

They want to create new professorships, transform the Biomedical Campus and increase their student population to help them compete with richer US institutions.

A total of £590m has been raised from 30,000 donors so far, but Mr Dolby's legacy is "the largest single gift so far".

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