Saturday, February 02, 2013

RIP Stefan 'Nagra' Kudelski, 1929-2013

Bit of a late one this, but I've just found out Stefan Kudelski, the man who invented the Nagra series of audio recorders, died last Saturday aged 83. The Polish Kudelski invented the portable reel-to-reel recording machine whilst studying engineering at a Swiss university in 1951. Nagra is Polish for "will record". It was the Nagra III (above), created in 1958, which revolutionised audio film recording at the same time film cameras were becoming cheaper and more lightweight with the development of 16mm film. This combination was seized upon by French New Wave auteurs such as Godard and Truffaut and documentary filmmakers including DA Pennebaker, who used the Nagra in his classic Dylan documentary Dont Look Back.

The Nagra became obsolete in the 1990s with the introduction of DAT tapes followed by digital recording. I used a Nagra at film school in the first year but by the second year we'd got a few DAT recorders, which were admittedly a lot easier to use. Needless to say, Nagras are now highly collectible, a quick look on eBay reveals several selling for hundreds of pounds. Even if they do look a bit like a tank, they are beautiful machines.

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