You know the name, even if you didn't know the man behind it: Engineer and prolific inventor Ray Dolby—as in Dolby surround sound—has died at age 80, reports the Los Angeles Times. His namesake company pioneered technology still widely used in cinemas, the recording industry, and maybe even your home theater. As the AP puts it, "his work spanned helping to reduce the hiss in cassette recordings to bringing Star Wars to life on the big screen in Dolby Stereo."
The native of Portland, Ore., held more than 50 patents in audio technology, and Bloomberg notes that he was chief electronics designer of the "first practical videotape recording system" in the early 1960s, when he worked at Ampex Corp. President Clinton gave him the National Medal of Technology, and he also picked up two Oscars, a Grammy, and several Emmys. "We lost a friend, mentor, and true visionary," says the CEO of Dolby Laboratories. (Read more obituary stories.)