Rhinegold Photo credit: Cambridge University

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Audio pioneer’s estate makes major gift to University of Cambridge

10:44, 8th December 2017

The estate of Ray Dolby, founder of the audio company bearing his name, has presented the University of Cambridge with £85m.

The gift, which is the largest philanthropic donation ever made to UK science, will support the redevelopment of the Cavendish Laboratory, the centre for physics research where Dolby received his PhD in 1961.

This is the second gift to the institution from the Dolby family, who donated £35m to Pembroke College in 2015. The family is now the second-largest donor to the University in its history.

The flagship building of the Cavendish Laboratory redevelopment will be named the Ray Dolby Centre, and is expected to open in 2022. A new Ray Dolby Research Group will be established at the Laboratory, which will be led by the Ray Dolby Professor, a newly created, endowed position.

‘This unparalleled gift is a fitting tribute to Ray Dolby’s legacy, who changed the way the world listened – his research paved the way for an entire industry,’ said the University’s vice-chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope. ‘A century from now, we can only speculate on which discoveries will alter the way we live our lives, and which new industries will have been born in the Cavendish Laboratory, in large part thanks to this extraordinarily generous gift.’

Ray Dolby, who died in 2013 at the age of 80, came to Cambridge as a Marshall Scholar in 1957, and received his PhD from the Cavendish in 1961.

In 1965, he founded Dolby Laboratories in London and invented the Dolby System, an analogue audio encoding system which improved the quality of recorded sound. The company moved in 1976 to San Francisco, where it has been based ever since.

Work on the new facility is expected to begin in 2019.


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