The gift will support the center where Dolby, inventor of the world-renowned Dolby Noise Reduction, Dolby Surround, and successor audio signal processing technologies, received his PhD in 1961. In recognition of the largest philanthropic gift ever made in support of science in the UK, the flagship building of the redeveloped Cavendish complex, which is expected to open in 2022, will be named the Ray Dolby Centre. With the funds, the center also will create a Ray Dolby Research Group, to be led by the holder of the newly established Ray Dolby Professorship, further strengthening its status as one of the world's leading centers of physics research.
Dolby, who died in 2013 at the age of 80, attended Cambridge as a Marshall Scholar in 1957. He received his PhD from the Cavendish in 1961 and was a student and later a fellow at Pembroke College. In 1965, he founded Dolby Laboratories in London and invented the Dolby System, an analog audio encoding system that improved the quality of recorded sound. In 1976, he moved the company to San Francisco, where its headquarters remain.
The gift is the second to the university from the Dolby family, which donated £35 million to Pembroke College in 2015, making it the second-largest donor to Cambridge, after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in its more than 800-year history. Earlier this year, Dagmar Dolby, Dolby's widow, became a signatory of the Giving Pledge.
"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 Cambridge vice chancellor 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."