Thomas Dolby is writing a new book about his experiences in the technology industry, Classic Pop can reveal.

Thomas Dolby

The as-yet-untitled book will be released by Macmillan Publishing in autumn next year. It will describe Dolby’s success in Silicon Valley, where he largely worked in the 1990s and 2000s, helping to implement music and technology. Among other successes, Dolby helped invent ringtones for Nokia.


Dolby told Classic Pop: “Going through my journals from the era was akin to reading historical science-fiction like HG Wells. Some of my predictions were very prescient, some were widely off the mark.”


He believes his most accurate prediction was foreseeing download music, a decade before it became popular. Dolby said: “When I was sent my first sound file online in about 1992, I immediately saw the possibilities – that it could cut out the need for record companies altogether, and could see musicians swapping song ideas without needing to be in the same room together. But I thought it would take off immediately. I was surprised that it took another decade to catch on, and it wasn’t really clear to me what caused downloads to become popular when they did.”


Dolby is turning his journals into a regular narrative book, and admitted: “I’d have preferred to simply compile my journals, but the publisher asked me to turn it into a book with a narrative theme. I’ve found that a little difficult, as I definitely don’t want to come across as some kind of guru saying ‘Of course, when I said this I knew I’d be right.’”


Dolby’s most recent album was 2011’s Map Of The Floating City. Asked about a new record, Dolby said: “I’m concentrating on the book and my lecturing role at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. But I can’t help coming up with ideas for new music when I’m driving or in the shower, and I’ll do something at some point.”


Thomas Dolby will be interviewed in the next issue of Classic Pop talking about his memories of playing at Live Aid with David Bowie.