Ray Dolby, the man who brought sound to life, has died

The man who revolutionized the way you listen to, well, everything, has passed away. Ray Dolby died Thursday in San Francisco — the 80-year-old inventor suffered from Alzheimer's and was diagnosed with acute leukemia in July.

Holding over 50 patents, Dolby started his career in sound engineering back in 1965 and his company went on to win 19 Academy Awards and 13 Emmys. For most people, Dolby's name rings a bell; the phrase "Dolby digital" swirled on the screen before almost every movie at home, or in theaters.

Neil Portnow, President and CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, told CNN:

His technologies have become an essential part of the creative process for recording artists and filmmakers, ensuring his remarkable legacy for generations to come.

And Dolby once said:

To be an inventor, you have to be willing to live with a sense of uncertainty, to work in the darkness and grope toward an answer, to put up with the anxiety about whether there is an answer.

Lucky for us, he always seemed to manage to find those answers he was looking for. His innovations in sound reduction and audio technologies made him a very rich man — Forbes estimates that he's worth $2.3 billion, with a "b" — but his contributions to the industry at large cannot be quantified.

Because without him, who knows how Star Wars, and countless other blockbusters, would have sounded. Most of us probably overlook sound engineers and artists, but their role in our favorite films can't be ignored.

Dolby is survived by wife Dagmar and sons David and Tom.

[Image via Vivanista1/Flickr]