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JBond

Nagra Stories Sound-men won’t ever tell

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I think that it is a bit unfair to view the IS as a badly designed or just ill-thought out recorder, as I actually find it a very nice, handy and even a bit sexy recorder. There is no question that it was not ideal for film use (5" reels, advanced but sensitive mechanics), but for radio use it was a gem: It was small, lightweight and the tape handling (for wind/rewind) was superior to the IV/4.2 machines. Radio Denmark had a large amount of IS recorders, and for many years it was the standard for danish radio work. I have 4 ex-Radio Denmark recorders, and one of them has a label indicating that it has been serviced in January 1992, so the IS had quite a long work life. And I can understand that: As a radio journalist (working alone), it must be quite a drag (literally) to spend all your days hauling a IV/4.2 around, if a recorder of half the weight will be just as good. No matter what sex you are... It seems that in other countries the Nagra E was seen as the perfect recorder for radio, and the IS is often completely omitted from listings of the Nagra recorder line (I actually had to write the Wikipedia Nagra IS description myself, as it was absent in their list). Personally I would rather forget the Nagra E; a recorder whose main quality is that it is a Nagra AND it is red (or blue), but otherwise an awkward product compared to other models. And in the "Poor Sales"-department the Nagra D stands out: Only three of them were sold in Denmark. I used one of them in film post work, and it is a magnificent, but temperamental beast.

I am quite sure that the IS showcased the technology that would have used in a successor to the IV/4.2 chassis, if there would have been a analog recorder after the IV-S. I have enclosed a couple of images showing what appears to be a factory mock up of a hybrid between an IS and a Nagra V. It was for sale on eBay a couple of years ago, I still regret that I didn´t try to buy it...

An information that I really would like to ask JBONDs inside source about, is a label on the back of one of my IS recorders, saying "Only for use with large reel adaptor". It is located behind the battery box, beside a cabinet cut out exposing a row of soldering points on the circuit board beneath it. I have never seen any reference to an IS "QGB" apart from that label, and it would be interesting to know if it ever existed...

 

ProtoNagra 1.jpg

ProtoNagra 12.jpg

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I believe he meant over here in the US, It did not sell well. Used ones are  hardly ever sold here. The two I have both were bought out of the US.  The IS is one of my favorite recorders. If I had only two to keep, I would probably keep the IS and the SN 

The best part of the IS that I like besides the small size,  is the silk screen writing all over it. The worse part about the IS are the ears sticking out on each side for the mic jacks etc.  If only they didn't have the ears!

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It seems to be a mix of a bit of everything: A Nagra IV lid, a Nagra V chassis, a Nagra IS-inspired stabilizing roller, a Nagra D pinch roller assembly + tape guides and a very digitally looking main board. And a few things from the Kudelski metal workshop (the heads seems a bit unconventional). Undoubtedly it is a Kudelski-produced prototype; unfortunately I have no more info, and the eBay ad was not very informative. Not a beauty,  but it offers a fascinating peek into the design process. The strange thing is that the Nagra V was launched in 2002, which is very late for an analog r-to-r recorder, so it might also be a elaborate prank or the result of a nostalgic Kudelski employees after-hours handiwork. Either way, it is a fun thing...

 

ProtoNagra 5.jpg

ProtoNagra 8.jpg

ProtoNagra 9.jpg

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Della : Two replies below I got from my Nagra source.
 I guess you nailed it when you said an employee experimenting. 
 
Nagra source
THE "QGB" was meant for the IV Series of Transports including the 4.2 !!!
The IS was limited to 5" reels !!!  One detractor !!!
The "E" (Economy) was Still Expensive and Simple, that why it didn't have the Audio Performance of its Sisters !!!!
One COOL thing the E did, you could use it to Troubleshoot !!!  Inside was a sheet of paper that contained the schematics and instructions on how to Convert the Meter into a Volt-Meter, KSA also included a test probe !!
 

That's exactly what I was referring to when I told you that when people would visit the Factory, they would assume they saw the Latest Product !!!  NOT SO !!!

Think of KSA as a MAD SCIENTIST, ALWAYS TRYING SOMETHING NEW !!!!!
Yes, they were messing with New Analog, BUT THE ANALOG MARKET WAS DEAD !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
About that Cluged IS/Whatever !!   The Comments are exactly true, people at the Factory Could Congere Up Anything !!!    FRANKENNAGRAS !!!!     A little bit of this a little bit of that !
AND IF SOMEONE WOULD SEE THOSE FRANKENNAGRAS, THE WHOLE WORLD WOULD START BUZZING ????    That’s what my Job Eventually Included ( Spread the Truth ) !!
 
Jbond speaking here
I found this on Ebay yesterday, may be one of the Experiments he is talking about, I think all these one of a kind recorders would be nice to have in any Nagra collection. Can't get much rarer than one of a kind.
 
This is one plain Nagra, There is so much missing on the front panel they needed screws to hold the front plate on. If I had extra money I would buy it just because its different. But I already bought my share of recorders in recent weeks. Besides I'm running out of room. If I had to guess from the serial number this is the third one of these they made. 2GU8903 
 
Yl4kKo7.jpg

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Yes, the Nagra IV-M is the ultimate fool proof machine...

http://www.filmsoundsweden.se/backspegel/nagra_4.html

One of the frustrating things about collecting Nagras is that there are so many factory made adaptations of the different models that it will be virtually impossible to get them all. But it is also a bit charming, that they often have their own "personality"...

The Nagra E not only had the schematics and a measuring probe enclosed, you actually got a little plastic bag along with the components most likely to be needed in case of problems. The components used were also very common and inexpensive types; they were not bad or cheap, just very widely used and thus easy to get anywhere. Everything was mounted on one, large circuit board with all the functions and adjustments clearly marked, thus service was very easy, even if you were an inexperienced repair technician. Not a bad recorder, but still not as great as the more expensive machines. And red, which is appealing in itself.

Regarding the IS ears, I also think that they are a bit clumsy, but on the other hand, you have to admire the work they put into a piece of metal, whose only function is to hold two XLR connectors. With the very elegant release arm, they are brilliantly over engineered, and clearly made by a designer who loves his/her work.

I still would like to know what this IS label mentioning the "Large reel adaptor" is about; it seems that the connector for it is included in the board layout, so there must have been some detailed plans...

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You can collect all of the models if you are serious enough.  If you collect long enough eventually  you will come across all of the models but you have to buy them when you see them.  I just found a rare spy recorder last month  I have been looking for 18 years.  The thing about Nagras people don't throw them away. Unfortunately I'm not going to buy this one only because I have bought too much right now and he's asking 700.00.  I have to take a pause every now and then.

I read  Kudelski would make a recorder for one customer. I think I told the story of one of his customers wanted a stereo 4.2 So Kudelski made the 4S for him.  It was during an interview with Steven Kudelski  I posted it somewhere. 

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Nagra source,

I read your response. One thing people need to understand about How They Did things at KSA !!!   They were Thorough about planning ahead !!!

For Instance, on the SNST circuit board their was a provision Engineered in that was Never Made !!!  It’s included in the Service Manual but Never Designed or Developed !!!
 
One Downfall at KSA was when they Purchased an Auto-Cad System !!!  They could make Engineering Changes like changing your socks, and they did !! They could Fabricate a board in minutes, and they did !!! They were too quick to make changes !!!
One time they made a software change on a product for the TRVR and didn't have a backup of the previous version !!! The changed program was Horrible !!!   Didn't Work !!!
The TRVR was a logging recorder designed to also be used as a transcriber !!!
Their was a reader/searcher that interfaced with the TRVR so you could Bookmark Sections of a recording and be able to recover those locations quickly, for Courtroom presentation.
 
I need to comment on the EARS on a IS !!!   The IS FAMILY was available for many Markets, therefore had to be compatible with existing Normalities (conventions)!!! Example: the sex of a connector is different in the European Market !! The XLR's on a NAB (US) machine are Female !! On a CCIR machine Male !!  Inputs/Outputs needed to be different also !!!
 
The "Ears" were KSA's attempt to make a Modular Production Recorder !!!
In this Country, the E and the IS Didn't sell very Well !!!
 
Jbond
I have seen many different options on the IS Ears, some even had like a volume control on them. 
You're right about being modular,   the IS is first recorder that had a modular battery pack also. 

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A special gift from Marguerite

For those who don’t follow this thread, I told this story before. That time in 2006 when I bought a Brand new Nagra E on Ebay I woke up to an email with a phone number to call and finalize the sale. Never ever realize it would be Nagra or it would be a New Nagra E. I called the number, the person answered in Swiss or Dutch?  I said hello he switched to English. He said his name was  Jean-Claude Schlup at Nagra in Switzerland.  We talked for over 30 minutes, he told me when he first started working for Kudelski his first development was the IS recorder, a lighter weight and smaller size recorder for lady reporters, he said this was his baby, he spoke very proudly of it, about the three motors battery etc.

I was so excited to be speaking with the head engineer at Nagra in Switzerland, I couldn't believe it.  I remember walking all around with the phone, the last time I was that excited is when I found this site of famous Hollywood Soundmen that recorded the famous movies I have known with the recorders that I collect.  I’m serious, well almost as excited.

He is shown below in this 6Moons.com photo, in an interview with Nagra Audio in 2009, he’s the man that could not look any more Swiss. My Nagra source says he always dressed like that. My Nagra source also said he (Jean-Claude) built the Nagrafax in a weekend, said he is brilliant.  Also in this picture is Stefan Kudelski's daughter Marguerite who sent me the autograph picture of her father also below.
 
JgVj50C.png
 
1 - Marguerite Kudelski, 2 - Samuel, 3 - Georges, 4 - Jean-Claude Schlup, 5 - Jean-François
6 - Philippe C., 7 - Jean, 8 - Thierry, 9 - Philippe, 10 - Patrick, 11 - Sylvain
 
 
 
 
1NYiRth.jpg
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
 

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Just a quick note to say Thank You for this continuing wonderful source of information about Nagras.

Nick.

 

PS (added two hours later) I thought I would add a little memory about the operation of Nagra IIIs. I was on a commercial in the late 1960s and the mixer was operating the Nagra. He pressed what he thought was the Tape/Direct button and was surprised to hear a beep of tone. Not believing his ears, he did it again, with the same result. He had of course mixed up the two buttons, the other one being the tone injection. So that was THAT take ruined!

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The Nagra DH differences, I think I may have the first one made.

Let me tell you why.
 
I thought my little Nagra DH  that I posted last year in the beginning of this thread was pretty nice.  It was never sold or used, and looks brand new.  And it spent 25 years next to my 1958 Nagra III on a dealer’s shelf.  A few months ago I bought another DH.  I bought it because of its low serial number. It was supposed to be in good shape but it was beat up a little compared my other one.  I thought it was too beat up for me to keep since I already had one like new so I put it away at the time.
 
Today I dug it out and started to clean it up thinking I would sell it on Ebay since I had one in new condition already.  I removed the dented rear grill, straightened the rear panel and the rear grill, and cleaned and polished up the rest of the unit.  I started to take some pictures - then I figured I’d plug in the A/C adaptor and try it.
It’s not there . . . I never realized they all didn’t have a way to plug it in.  So I went and got my other one down to compare the differences of the two DH’s that I have.
 
What I found.
1) On the side of the newer DH there is a switch ac or batt with a socket for a Nagra III a/c adaptor.
2) The handle trim is different on the early one, has some other style to it, whereas the later one is just plain.
3) Where it was made - the early ones made in Paudex Switzerland, whereas the newer one was made at 1033 Cheseaux Switzerland 
4) The newer one has a printed circuit board inside the newer light green board like on a 4.2; the early one does not.
 
The DH monitor I have been cleaning up, serial number 62  1 - I think is the first Nagra DH made (made in 1962).   
I believe the first year the Nagra DH monitor was introduced was in 1962, the same time the “NEW” Nagra III pilot model came out, also in 1962 
There is no other reason it would be serial number 62  1,  based on the pattern of the serial numbers I have been collecting. 
 
I know for a fact that all Nagra III serial numbers are read by the 1st two digits (year made), followed by the number made to date. So just like a 1958 Nagra III ends with 58 240, a 1959 Nagra III would start at  59  241 etc.  So the DH monitors followed the same pattern of serial numbers as the Nagra III.
 
So is this the first DH monitor made?  Notice the serial numbers on the following DH monitors - each one the year first and then the total amount made since the first one made. The first DH serial number 62  1  and the last one serial number 2100 are mine. All the others are just pictures of serial numbers I have collected from ebay sales and the internet.
Do you agree I have the first Nagra DH ?  The serial numbers below show a clear pattern. 
 
 
Serial Number 62  1    1962, 1st one made
 
RPA5xbe.jpg
 
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
Serial Number 64  517   The Year 1964 517th made since 1962,   get the picture?
 
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Serial Number 64  576.  Again the year 1964, 576th one made since 1962.
 
0DmgzPx.jpg
 
 
 
 
Serial Number 64  626
 
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Serial Number 66  981  The year 1966, the 981st one made.
 
N6PWu0n.jpg
 
 
 
Serial Number 67  1109   The year 1967 the 1,109 unit made since 1962
 
8Kapv1w.jpg
 
Then I believe after the Nagra III was out of production (1968)  they still continued to make the Nagra DH  for the 4.2. and 4L
 
Now since they were being made for the 4L and 4.2 the year made was dropped from the serial number,  just the amount made was carried on. Like the serial numbers on the 4 L and 4.2 just showes the number made not the year made.
 
Serial number 1499  also has the green printed circuit board inside.
 
3FfhQAm.jpg
 
 
Serial Number 2100  It’s the highest number DH I have seen to date, the one that I have shown earlier in this thread.
 
jagdXi7.jpg
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
Brown board hand wired of the first Nagra DH  Serial Number 62  1
 
hai0bwW.jpg
 
 
Circuit board of the newest I have Serial Number 2100
 
qH2Ux6b.jpg
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
NoHkBTq.jpg
 

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The DH I had certainly did not have the BAT  -  EXT switch and it was always used with batteries installed --- after all that was its purpose: a portable battery operated powered loudspeaker. So, must have been the earlier one.

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The Story of the "Yellow Recorder"

Note:  I am showing these vintage tape recorders as part of my collection only.  They are out of service and no longer used in the manner they were designed, but remain a part of audio recording history.  It should not be considered in any way as endorsing or promoting any activity contrary to applicable laws and regulations.  

 
 
This story has nothing to do with Nagras, Film or Sound.
It sounds like its about my story collecting recorders.  But It’s really about just one recorder.
I call it, the mystery of the “Yellow Recorder”  
 
Since 1993 94 I was trading emails and phone conversations with a friend a few times a year more or less over the last 21 years on and off, mostly in the early years. For the first 8 years I didn’t know he worked or was associated with the CIA.  We exchanged emails, bought and sold tape recorders with each other in that time.  We both were collectors of tape recorders. He knew so much more than I about recorders back then. He would send me information and pictures over the years of different vintage tape recorders, old ads of tape recorders, what to look for and other related collectibles.  
 
In all that time he never let on that he was associated with the CIA in some way. I remember telling my wife when I found out - you know that guy I have been talking and dealing with?  Well all this time he was with the CIA.  I still don’t know at what level or what he did even today.
 
I learned about this somewhere in 2002 - can’t remember the exact date. The only reason I even know about this is because in 2000, 2,619 names were leaked, called the Crowley files. I won’t reveal his name but he is one of the 2,619 names outed. Even then he never came right out and told me.  What he did was, he told me out of the blue to do a Yahoo search of his name, sure enough there he was. ( I guess Google was new back then)
 
Robert Trumbull Crowley, former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in October of 2000. Before he died, Crowley, who had been with the CIA since its beginning in 1948, gave important portions of his large files to several journalists. Among these valuable papers is an alphabetical listing of persons considered to be sources for the CIA.
 
Never met him in person to this day. I know who he is, I know what he looks like, nothing is secret about him now. Still in contact with him. In fact I ran this post by him first.  
 
The only reason I believe he contacted me in the first place was because he heard that I bought out the remaining left over Fi-Cord items at  The Karl Heitz Co. in New York. The only Fi-Cord distributor in the USA 
 
Otherwise I don’t even think he would have contacted me.  He also collected tape recorders as I said. 
I traded or sold him just about one of everything I bought from the Fi-cord dealer that year from machines to parts to screws to stickers, carrying cases, manuals and documents, etc.  Later on I traded him two different early spy recorders - the kind on my top shelf, the very early very rare ones, none of which he had. He knew about them but didn’t have them.  
 
The Fi-cord 101 and 101S (the difference is the speed) made in Switzerland by Stellavox for Fi-Cord, a real nice unit. Gold anodize aluminum, beautiful machines.  Guess who was the largest US customer? the US Government. What happen to them all?  Every now and then one would come up on Ebay but thousands were destroyed. Most likely because they were outdated once the cassette came out, so they threw them away.
What I had to do to find these Fi-Cord 101’s below 20 years ago is another story. 
 
NKZm266.jpg
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
Of all the items I bought from that Fi-Cord Distributor there was not one Fi-Cord 101 shown above in the bunch.  The reason I went to NY that day in the first place was to get a 101. Nope, I got  screws, cases, belts, parts, paperwork, Government orders, repair manuals, special tools, microphones the later 303 tape recorders etc.  but not one single 101 machine. 
What I did get in some of the material was a US Dealer directory list of all the  Fi-Cord dealers in all 50 states in 1965. No phone numbers just addresses I had to call information on each one in every state to get the number. 
Some were still in business some weren't. Hit and miss. 
 
i4kQFHd.jpg
 
I called every dealer in that directory. Phone call after phone call, the 19 year old girl would say Fi-what? We have Olympus would you like some of those?  I felt like a fool, nobody knew what the hell I wanted.
I just kept repeating myself. Fi-Cord! !! Fi———-Cord,  Fi-Cord you know Fi_cord its a tape recorder.
The dealer list was from 1965 , the year I called over 50 or so dealers was 1994, almost thirty years later.
 
Finally one of the last calls the guy said I know what they are, I think I still have some in the warehouse.  Whats your number I’ll call you back. I gave him my business name and phone number to him.  He thought I was another Stationary Store. Which could not be further then what my business was. But because Service was in the name it could mean anything.
He called me back, yeah I have a few units on the shelfs, Do you want them all, YES send me all of them, everything you got.  What is your address I send them to you and you can send me what you think they’re worth. A few days later I received two large boxes full of old  Fi-Cord stock right off the shelfs from 1965 all 101’s  not a lot of parts like I got from the Distributor. I got about 12, 101 machines new and used (not all in boxes) Many new never sold accessories very rare speaker units the Sennheiser  pen microphone, leather cases etc. All in original Fi-Cord boxes. The guy never even asked for shipping up front it was like a sale between dealers.
A gold mine a collector could only dream about.
Anyway back to the story. 
 
I remember my friend (the first contact in this story) telling me 21 years ago over the phone about this little tape recorder that was milled out of a “solid block” of aluminum, with little colored metal reels. The way he described every little detail from the polished screw heads, to the little jeweled meter with the  bubbled crystal glass, to the thin and small size of it, all over the phone.  It was like he was describing food, some sort of a delicacy, I might be exaggerating a little here but after speaking with him I knew I wanted one, site unseen. 
 
This small mysterious little tape recorder he was talking about at that time was the Nagra SN. (Let’s face it, there is nothing like an SN, even today)
I think the Nagra SN in the years to come will become the most sought after vintage tape recorder ever made  (mark my words). 
 
Cfi9aCR.jpg
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
 
The way he talked about all the different recorders that I didn’t know about, made me want to find them. The Minifon wire recorders also were introduced to me through him. It took me a long time to get the first one and over the years I bought each model as I found them. Minifon started in 1951 I believe its where the phrase “wearing a wire” came from.
 
 
ZHlOH5E.jpg
 
 
 
Over the years I found one example of each, all but one, the prototype? Even found the clear see-through store display models marked not for sale.
 
 
zDbP3Ih.jpg
 
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
From left to right a Sennheiser M 61 Pen microphone and cuff link microphones. A Not To Be Sold P55 clear display model, tie clasps microphones, and watch microphone. 
 
 
Clpv6Zf.jpg
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
 
 
Even a salesmen giveaway Minifon cigarette lighter.  A clear 1951 Minifon demo model and  a 1951 picture of Minifon spy recorder in use hidden with watch microphone.
One would say - He was “wearing a wire” in the picture.
 
 
 
The internet was new back then, at least for me. I never even heard of any Nagra or saw a Nagra SN before. I just had a few toy and three inch recorders at the time, us collectors always looking for the smallest one. 
 
This was  before I was on the internet. What’s Ebay?  Radio shows and flea markets were where I got my information in the late eighties and early nineties.  Where I lived, finding a 3 inch portable reel to reel was really mission impossible.  I placed an ad in a Radio Magazine “Wanted: miniature reel to reel tape recorders.”  I would receive letters from all over the U.S. (hundreds of letters) I don’t know, it was a lot,  I didn’t save the early letters - nobody wanted the recorders but everybody seemed to have one.  I got most recorders real cheap and a couple (two)were even sent to me at no charge.  Imagine getting a package unexpectedly, opening it up and finding a note inside “This is for you. It’s too good to throw away”  Of course there was always dealers who wanted more but most people just wanted a token amount for the recorders.
 
In the early nineties It was a very different time back then, someone would write me a letter and sometimes include a picture, some even drew pictures of the recorder they had.
Then I would send a check, wait another week for the check to get there. Then wait another week or more for the check to clear, then the package was sent, taking another week for me to finally get the recorder. Wow I must have had a lot of patience back then. I didn’t, but what else could I do. That was how it was done.  Here are some letters shown below.  On one (enlarge it) the shipping was less so he sent me back two 19 cent stamps, those were the days.
 
 
lB2fTdS.jpg
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
ngXAzaN.jpg
 
Some drew pictures,  I later found that recorder that he wanted 175.00 for I paid 10.00 for it new in the box. I still have it today. I did not buy anything from him, but it shows what people did before Ebay. Sellers have it made on Ebay now. Look what this guy had to do to sell his items. 
 
Around  this time, everyone was into transistor radios, even me.  Although I thought reel to reels were much more exciting.  You could record and play it back plus you didn’t have to compete at top dollar for them - at least you could watch the reels turn, and I could get them so cheap. 
 
.
So I started buying small reel to reels recorders. There was hardly any competition. A couple people did send them to me for no charge because they thought they were too good to throw away and they’d rather see me have them instead.  
But another thing about buying reel to reel recorders is what was reordered on the tape it was never music always voice. 
 
 
I have tapes from covert recording, (from the sixties) to This is Christmas morning 1965 testing, test, test, test, then putting the recorder back in the box and never used again until I bought it.
 
I remember getting a tape recorder with a bunch of 3 inch reel tapes.  The son, was in Vietnam sending tapes back home to his parents and the parents would record and send tapes back to him. I would listen to the tapes and hear stories from the father telling his only son serving in Vietnam what was going on back home like the father saying today I cleaned out the basement etc.  I just can’t get into anything these days etc. The father says now your mother wants to say a few words its just conversation but it puts you right in the time period and what people felt and said back then. It was sort of sad. The son was asking about his girlfriend etc. It went on and on reel after reel. His father would say on the tape things like  McNamara said today they were sending another 25 thousand troops doesn’t sound like it will end soon etc. etc. I remember quickly trying to load the next reel to find out what happened to him and the girlfriend? Did he ever come home? What happened to him? etc. It was pretty interesting.  Even was a tape of his girlfriend speaking to him. It was mostly tapes the son received from his family. Finally, from what I can tell, he did end up coming home and there were tapes with him back home with his girlfriend and they were about to get married.
That is where the bunch of tapes left off. 
 
I really couldn’t believe someone would sell these tapes and the recorder of such an important time in their lives and history.  I still have the tapes, it been twenty years since I played them.
Another was the 1967 World Series.  I bought a nice little Roberts 3 inch reel to reel recorder with the 1967 World Series and commercials from the day, really interesting but I sold that recorder and the tape, maybe I should have kept it.
Here is a video I made to sell it.  Recorded Tape can be very Interesting if you have the time to listen,  it’s a recording of what was happening back in that moment, in time. 
It was the only time this recorder was used, used to record the 1967 World Series then put back in its box. The recorder as you see it is now in a technology museum in Texas. 
Here is the video I made late last year of the recorder and tape playing, to sell on Ebay. I had the recorder for years. (another one I should have kept.
 
Listen to a part of the 1967 World Series Someone recorded on their brand new Roberts recorder.
 
 
 
 
Unfortunately the ones I collect now aren’t that cheap anymore, are they?  
It’s hard to imagine not looking something up on the internet today, but back then what did I have? Books? Other collectors? I had nothing for research.
 
Now think of it - if you were collecting all these types of Japanese, German, etc. tape recorders shown below, and that was all that you knew, can you image having someone describe a Nagra SN to you for the first time in such great detail over the phone?
What would you think? 
 
ExqTFH8.jpg
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
The next week after him telling me about the Nagra SN I bought one from a Los Angeles sound company which I can’t seem to find the name right now.  I don’t know - it was stamped all over the manual and over the years I sold the manual because I had one without the name stamped all over it. The amount I paid for the Nagra SN was 1200.00. It was the most expensive recorder I ever bought at that time by far. This was 1994. As much as my mortgage payment.
 
So it was in Jan 1999 when things all started to change - I started on Ebay January 1999.  Over the years the Nagra SNST - that was just a rumor, a stereo version of the SN and it had this little amplifier for playback. But no one ever saw it.  My friend never saw it either or would not tell me he did.  He did tell me the SNST with amplifier was the price of a small car.
 
I did get a spec sheet on ebay before ever seeing the SNST recorder. Over time the SNST started showing up on Ebay as the price came down and I was able to pick one up.   Same with the JBR recorder PS-1 etc.  You heard about it, but never saw it or could buy one, until they moved onto the next latest recorder at the time, that’s how it worked, if they were using it, you don’t know about it.  When they were done with it, it slowly leaks out over time. 
 
I wonder how many SNST’s were destroyed before someone said “Hey wait a minute, these are too nice to destroy.”
 
As far as I know the Nagra CBR is what they use today but you can’t buy one. I’m sure there are other models that we don’t know about also. 
 
Ok, so what’s my point most are probably saying if you got to read this far. 
 
**************************************************************************************************************************************************************************
 
The point of this story is,
There was this one other recorder my outed CIA friend  told me about - he didn’t know the name of it, or who made it, just this copy of a picture he sent me through the mail in a stack of other stuff 18 years ago. 
 
He told me it was a precision built recorder better built than a Nagra. I always thought that was hard to believe, better than a Nagra? Sure it was, I thought. But he was the one who told me about the SN so he should know. I always thought wow, it would be nice to find that someday. If I ever come across it, I would buy it. Unfortunately I never saw the recorder anywhere over the last 18 years.
 
This is the picture below that he sent me 18 years ago - he called it the “Yellow Recorder.”  He told me he was gifted the photo, the ashtray and the recorder but didn’t know anything else about it.  The contact that gave him the picture and recorder had no idea about it either . . . it has been a mystery now for 18 years.
 
 
 
jZEsRr3.jpg
 
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
 
.
 
After all these years, I found it on Ebay back in December 2015.  As I said I have been buying on Ebay since January of 1999 - I have seen a lot of recorders on Ebay since then.
As soon as I saw it, I knew what it was.  I quickly dug out that old picture above from a pile of stuff that I had for 18 years, sure enough that’s it. I haven’t been looking that much for recorders lately . Came upon it by sheer luck.  Another recorder just waiting for me, I guess.
 
The Ebay seller never sold anything on ebay before from what I could tell. He has no selling feedback.  I never bid on an item until the end.  I’m not one of those guys on Ebay that keeps bidding up an item watching the price go up just to say I’m winning. Or to place a high bid at first just to let others keep bidding it up until they are the high bidder. To this day I will never understand why two or more people just keep bidding each other up back and forth like idiots a week before it goes off, idiots!  Anybody that bids more than once on an item with 5 days left to go is an idiot, why is he raising the price he will have to pay.
 
I never bid on an item until the end. (Unless it has no bids)  then I will place a token minimum bid. I do this so the seller won’t end the auction. Problem was the first bid on this recorder was starting at 1,000.00. The only reason I would place the first bid is so there would be much less of a chance the seller would take the auction down if it had a bid on it.
If it sits there for 5 days with no bids someone could message the seller and make an offer without me knowing and its gone. If there is a bid on it chances are the seller would just  let it go on. But on this recorder after 7 days I was the only bidder, no one else bid on it. Of course a second bid was placed by me in the last seconds. I’m pretty good at Ebay by now. 17 years last month.
 
For one, I don’t think anyone knew what it was (they certainly have not seen it before) and with it being priced so high could have been a turn off for most. And two, it was in Argentina. Thats sucks, always a bigger deal, shipping translating etc. But thats where it was and I was not going to pass it up. 
 
Sadly I was prepared to pay much more, luckily I didn’t have to. Once finally finding out the name of the recorder from the picture on ebay I was able to locate one paragraph of information about it. Just one paragraph. The article was written in 1974.  Made in the UK in 1974 by the same people that originally designed the cigarette pack recorder that I have. 
The article stated several hundred were made and sold to the intelligence community around the world for 420.00 British Pounds.  That is it, no other information exists about this recorder that I could find.  
Here it is.
 
 
I know from experience buying something small in size internationally to use Fedex International priority 3 day or overnight so it doesn’t get stuck in customs for a week a month or more.  
I no longer have the patience of 25 years ago writing letters, mailing payments and waiting and waiting. Not to mention sending 1,000.00 bucks to Argentina. At least with 1 to 3 day Fedex priority it’s moving, worth the price in shipping and peace of mind at 83.00
 
Before it was writing letters and sending checks in the mail. Today its Ebay, Buy It Now and Paypal instant payment,  overnight shipping and priority delivery, what a difference from two decades ago.
 
So 18 years after first seeing this little known recorder in the picture my friend sent me, I finally have one. I told my wife don’t get me anything for Christmas and she didn’t. 
 
It’s a very nice little recorder, very rugged aluminum frame covered in nice fine leather. The nameplate is missing on the recorder in the picture, that is why no one knew the name. This one clearly shows the name. It’s not better than an SN but it’s certainly smaller and better quality by far than any other covert recorder I have.
Shown here with the picture.
 
Nhap1O5.jpg
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
 
dJfgBtK.jpg
 
 
Y7D6VTw.jpg
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
 
Why it was nicknamed the “Yellow Recorder” between the people who knew of it, is still a mystery. It’s not yellow. 
 
One strange thing about mine, a yellow painted band on top the recorder is still visible where the owner tried to remove since taking the picture for ebay and shipping it. Clearly put there to mark it. It means something, Does it have something to do with the name yellow recorder?
 
dJfgBtK.jpg
 
I asked my friend about the yellow mark.
His words
 I had told you that when I was gifted the "Yellow Recorder" I was also given the photo. I told you that the "operative" (at that time) source called it the "Yellow Recorder". Also I informed you that he claimed to know nothing about it. Not where it was made, etc. I certainly believe him. He did not know why it was designated "Yellow". (My recorder has NO yellow markings at all)
What I DO know without any doubt is that this individual has zero history outside the US.
I can not provide anymore info on this. I have his contact information but I am certain he knows nothing more about it, other than where he got it ...... of course. Like I said, if the info you received on it is accurate then you know more than I about it.

Happy New Year. 

Let me know if you want to possibly talk late next week.

Once the seller shipped the recorder I asked if he had any history on the recorder. Where it was from? What it was used for? (I always wait and ask some questions after I bought, paid and was shipped so the seller can’t back out if he determines it was sold too cheap.
I have told too many sellers what they have, before they knew what they had, just by asking questions. 
He replied with this back in 5 minutes time. I copied and pasted his response below in red.
 
It was manufactured in England. It was used by the SIDE (Servicio de Inteligencia del Estado or State Intelligence SERVICE) during the Argentine military goverment in the 70s, after overthrowing the weak government of Maria Estela Martinez de Peron (wife of Peron Grl). 
 
Hmm….I did a little search, 
 
Isabel Martínez de Perón President from July 1, 1974 - March 24, 1976 her term, before being removed by the military and held under house arrest for 5 years then exiled to Spain.  I searched for some pictures and bought this on Ebay after I received the recorder,  just to go with it.
 
So Isabels’s President husband dies,- she takes over as President of Argentina -  and from what I have read she just had one hell of a time from day one.
 
 
f02bGLv.jpg
 
 
Just think,  some of you Soundmen were using your Nagra 4.2 or IV-S recording sound for movies, joking with your boom operator, watching the scenery and the beautiful people. Recording the sound for some great movies in history.
 
While others at that time, were not that nice, in that same time period were using this little recorder for very different reasons.
I don’t want to mention the name of the war they called it back then. (because I have no proof)
 
The tape has since long been wiped clean, its blank. One can only guess what it may have been used for. For me thats ok, blank is better than missing that very tiny reel or the tiny tape. 
I have no proof other than what the seller has stated above, I see no reason he made it up since he already had my money and the recorder left his hands. A simple answer would have been, I don’t know what it has been used for. But that is not the answer he gave.
 
The time period is right, the country is right, its what the recorder was designed to do and it’s so very rare. 
 
Another interesting thing about this little recorder is the size of the tape it uses. 
The tape on a full size Nagra is 1/4 inch wide, the tape on a Nagra SN is 1/8 inch wide, the tape on this recorder is 1/16 of an inch wide.
Imagine if it took 18 years to find the recorder how long would it take to find a missing reel? Or for that matter 1/16 inch reel tape?
 
Of all the recorders I have or know about, I have never seen tape of this size. It’s extremely hard to load the recorder with this tiny tape, the tape path is shown on the directions etched into the lid.
It’s a tough little recorder to load the tape even with the lid directions. 
 
 
doxi01p.jpg
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
I first ended the story right here.
I wrote all of the above over a month and a half ago to this point.
 
I debated whether or not to post this at all.  I didn’t know if I wanted to post this much detail and I did want to know more about the name Yellow Recorder.
 
 
**************************************************************************************************************************
 
So a few days after what I wrote above, I contacted my second  “three letter source”  from a different agency, I assume, they never really say, just references made in past and present conversations like “the agency”  “the target” etc. led me to conclude he was somebody. I could be wrong but I seriously don’t think so. 
(to make it easier to follow my second contact in BLUE, (note this is Not my Nagra contact) and the Ebay seller in RED ) 
 
I sent my second contact an email with pictures of my new recorder and the picture my friend gave me 18 years ago, I asked,  have you seen this little recorder and this picture before? And do you know why it was called the “yellow recorder” ? 
 
 
His reply : I have seen this recorder, they are rare,  Were people speaking or writing when people mentioned “Yellow” to you.   The reason I ask is that I have not heard the “Yellow" part before.
 
I said both,  writing and speaking. He got back to me the next morning with this.
 
The Daily Telegraph (UK) took the recorder photo on a conference table to go with one of their corporate espionage stories.   That photo was used with multiple stories (many of which I should have in storage).  It was also the cover photo for a 32 page children's book by Theodore Rowland-Entwistle called THE SECRET SERVICE published by Wayland Ltd (UK) in 1987.  A scan of the cover is attached, and you will notice that the book cover is yellow. 
 
 D85cZPI.jpg
 
 
 
Wow… he is pretty thorough, what a complete and detailed answer, with scan included. 
I kinda get the idea this is what he does for a living. It reminds me of the movie Meet The Parents when Jack (Robert De Niro) asked his source for info. The guy had all the detailed info at his fingertips and was rattling them off before Jack even finished asking. 
 
My source goes on and informs me the same seller in Argentina has listed another same type recorder for sale at twice the price I paid with no name plate on this one.
 
This new information does not diminish the rarity and importance of this little recorder but it does make for a funny unexpected ending to a very long story that lasted for over 18 years. And proves, others were paying attention also to this little recorder and collecting information on it. Finally ending up on the cover of a Children’s book. 
 
The recorder was made in 1974, 42 years ago and had plenty of serious use between 1974 and 1978 10 years before the UK press published pictures of it for their stories in the mid to late 80’s
So after 18 years I have the little mystery recorder and now the most likely answer of the “yellow recorder” nickname. 
 
I ordered two of these children books on Amazon right after my contact sent me the information above and will be sending one of them to my first 3 letter friend in the beginning of this story the one who gave me the picture of the yellow recorder 18 years ago.
 
**********************************************************************************************************************
 
I have since received the books. Here’s a couple of pages of what’s it like on the inside. Not a bad little bound book, Children's book?
 
iqY0zkL.jpg
 
 
 
rXihrDC.jpg
 
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
3PRTrCn.jpg
 
 
 
 
 
The story does not end here. 
Now the seller in Argentina has lowered the price on the second recorder like mine on Ebay from 2000.00 to 1300.00 and re-listed it. But the pictures either time did not show the cover of the recorder, so I can’t tell if it also has the yellow mark.
 
I decided just to contact the Argentina seller at this point to ask if the current recorder he is selling has any yellow marks on it and if so what does it mean. 
 
His answer 
 

 

Hi, I was under investigation and the yellow mark served to identify teams of the companies counterintelligence or electronic intelligence belonging to the Intelligence Service of the 
State here in Argentina between 1975 and 1978, after the ousted democratic government of Maria Estela Martinez Peron by General Videla. Hope that helps ... Greetings XXXXXXXX
 
Now remember this comes to me through Ebay already translated, so I’m not sure if he means he was investigating or he was being investigated or maybe he mean’t I did some investigation.  Ebay translation is not always perfect. 
 
I replied 
Thanks for getting back to me.

The reason I ask about the yellow marks, was someone I know called the this recorder the “ yellow recorder” many years ago.  This was the first time I saw the recorder. That is why I bought it from you. 
The person that told me about the recorder did not know why it was called the “Yellow recorder"

Did all the recorders like this belonging to the Service of the State have yellow marks on them? Or just the ones you have? 
Is that why it was called the Yellow recorder? Or is this the first time you heard it called the yellow recorder?  
I'm very interested in these types of recorders thats why I ask. 
Thank you
 
His reply
 
Honestly it's the first time I hear they call "the yellow tape recorder" and I do all that belonged to the SIDE have that brand.  
 
Same reply my other contact had. I have not heard the “Yellow” part before.
 
I replied to the Argentina seller
 
Did you use the recorder back then? or did you get them at a government surplus sale? 
Are all the ones that belong to SIDE have yellow on them? Or just the one I bought. 
I like the history.
 
His reply 
 
Hello Roger
All teams have of this type has the yellow mark, I bought them at auction lag of govierno, and all I know is what I discuss in the previous messages.
I was trying to find out if he used the recorder back then but I gave him an out by asking did you buy them at a government sale?  I think he knows a little more than he is saying but I’ll leave it at that.
So according to the seller, all recorders of this type used by SIDE in Argentine back then were marked with yellow. (like you would know this information from being an average guy at  a government auction?)
 
 
Is this why it was called the yellow recorder? or something to do with the book or both? 
 
Whatever the reason, I finally got that long sought-after little recorder, with the book I never knew existed and some history of how and where this little yellow marked recorder was used.
 
Now off to find that Nagra ISS
 
dmIoXzK.jpg
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.

 
 
 
 

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What a fascinating story, thank you so much for posting it.

The name Evershed brings back memories of advertisements in the ACTT (UK film and TV union) magazine for Evershed power optics, a company that made, if I recall correctly, motors for zoom lenses, motion control and that sort of stuff. If you Google Evershed Power Optics, you will find a few references to them, some of their patents make me think that they may well be the Eversheds mentioned in your article.

Please keep us up to date with your researches, it is all really interesting.

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On 13/03/2016 at 5:08 PM, Nick Flowers said:

 

 

On 13/03/2016 at 5:08 PM, Nick Flowers said:

What a fascinating story, thank you so much for posting it.

The name Evershed brings back memories of advertisements in the ACTT (UK film and TV union) magazine for Evershed power optics, a company that made, if I recall correctly, motors for zoom lenses, motion control and that sort of stuff. If you Google Evershed Power Optics, you will find a few references to them, some of their patents make me think that they may well be the Eversheds mentioned in your article.

Please keep us up to date with your researches, it is all really interesting.

The Tinyurl link points to New Scientist - an article from 4th April 1974, and the paragraph talking of the recorder mentions Evershed and Vignoles as the makers of the T704 - a quick google on the London based company

http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Evershed_and_Vignoles

points out that it it was an Acton area based company established 1895 and employing 500 people in the 1920s and over 1500 by the 1960s. Makers of instrumentation and electrical equipment including naval and defence so well suited for the espionage side ... there may be some interesting other threads to this story ... the T704 may have some notable brothers and sisters (thinking along the lines of the SN's extended family and the Crevette).

From 1971 and the era of the T704 much of the company was sold to Thorn EMI (very much connected to the British film industry - and much of the rest of British industry) and "mainly involved in making defence electronic equipment at Acton Lane" before moving to Vauxhall along the road from MI6 (or some of it) in 1986. 1987 name changed to Megger Instruments Limited. Megger Ltd now based in Kent.

All just from the above link.

Thanks as always for the enjoyable story, photos and another source of industrial history!!

Best, Jez

 

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Interesting that they changed their name to Megger Instruments Ltd. Many a prank was played with a Megger tester, which was hand cranked to create a high voltage to test insulation...and to surprise the unsuspecting!

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On March 14, 2016 at 3:53 PM, The Immoral Mr Teas said:

 

The Tinyurl link points to New Scientist - an article from 4th April 1974, and the paragraph talking of the recorder mentions Evershed and Vignoles as the makers of the T704 - a quick google on the London based company

http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Evershed_and_Vignoles

points out that it it was an Acton area based company established 1895 and employing 500 people in the 1920s and over 1500 by the 1960s. Makers of instrumentation and electrical equipment including naval and defence so well suited for the espionage side ... there may be some interesting other threads to this story ... the T704 may have some notable brothers and sisters (thinking along the lines of the SN's extended family and the Crevette).

From 1971 and the era of the T704 much of the company was sold to Thorn EMI (very much connected to the British film industry - and much of the rest of British industry) and "mainly involved in making defence electronic equipment at Acton Lane" before moving to Vauxhall along the road from MI6 (or some of it) in 1986. 1987 name changed to Megger Instruments Limited. Megger Ltd now based in Kent.

All just from the above link.

Thanks as always for the enjoyable story, photos and another source of industrial history!!

Best, Jez

 

 
 
Thanks Jez,  for posting the link.
I did find other links about the companies and products it made over the years as you did when I first found out the name, but no other information on recorders that I can find.  The only thing I found as you know was this link I posted that actually made reference to the recorder  http://tinyurl.com/zfkoptz
I wish there was a brother and sister model as you say but I don’t think so.
 
I believe the Nagra SN at that time over took and stifled sales of all the other covert recorders (reel to reel) on both sides of the world, and may be the best reason why the Evershed recorders are so rare. 
The quality of the Nagra was unsurpassed from all the covert recorders that came before it. The price was high but for governments with deep pockets it was not an issue.  The Evershed a quality recorder itself, It  just came out at the wrong time and as you can see from the article it was almost the cost as the Nagra SN at the time. 
 
Most companies that made covert recorders did not advertise about them publicity. Which is the reason we are not going to find anything specific to the recorder or pictures of it.
Part of the mystery, was the Evershed name itself, not just the Yellow part. The picture on the cover of the Children’s book, the nameplate was missing, which may have been done on purpose. Many of the early vintage convert recorders had no name or identifying marks on them at all. I have very early ones.
I guess It is possible some were made without the name plate depending on who the buyer was?  but I would think the model number also would not be on the unit if that was the case. 
 
But one thing is very clear, the picture on the book cover was the same picture only cropped that I had for 18 years. That is the only picture known of the recorder the one on the book cover. The same picture was used in other UK articles also but its always the same picture. As you can see in the brief article link there is no picture of the recorder.
My second source had all that info about the Children’s book, UK press etc but the name.  In all the pictures he has ever seen of the Evershed recorder the name was either missing, too blurry or to obscure to see.  The Evershed name was not known until the one on Ebay came up for sale, only then the name was known, at least to myself and my two contacts in the story that knew of the recorder. 
The name was certainly known in that article in 1974 (But without knowing the "name" in the first place you would never find that article.)
 
The Children’s book makes no reference to any name of any spy equipment on the cover or inside the book. Yes, my second source knew about the picture and book, but he identified my recorder by the picture not the name.
 
I don’t think we will find another link on the Evershed recorder itself. Maybe over in the UK I don't know?
I do know we will never find a link from the Evershed or Evershed evolved companies to the reference Yellow. 
That reference to the recorder was made on the users end. 
 
 
On March 12, 2016 at 5:08 AM, Nick Flowers said:

Please keep us up to date with your researches, it is all really interesting.

Thanks Nick,  but I'm all done with researching.   I am completely happy with the outcome of the "Yellow" Children's book and the Ebay sellers answers to the "Yellow" mark on the recorder. I don't need or want to know anymore details on that end. I may have built it up too much with such a long story starting way back from the beginning of collecting.  I just didn't know how to write about this recorder without starting from the beginning, it was all connected. 

 

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I only have two recorders left that I know about to complete my covert spy recorder collection. 
The ones I know of are,
The Nagra ISS that I talked about earlier in the thread.
 
Oz1myCu.jpg
 
The other one is one a  Russian collector has that I have been in contact with over the years, he doesn’t have many spy recorders only two of them. I even offered him a Nagra SNST for it with no luck.
I don't blame him, the Nagra's are so common. 
 
This one in the link is super nice. He also has a couple of videos of it. Look at the amount of accessories he has with this fine little Russian recorder. I have the Russian wire recorder as he does(1970)  but Clearly this is the best Russian recorder I have seen by far. I would guess this is about 1974 vintage same as the Evershed. 
 
Take note at the bottom of the link below, of the Russian "copy" of the Nagra SNST and Playback Amp.  I guess I would say maybe three more recorders to go, the Russian copy of the SNST would also be a prize to have.
 
Who am I fooling there is always going to be another one. My wife says I just have to Stop looking. 
Isn't it something the US and the Soviet Union making/using  recorders to record conversations. When was the last time you wanted to make a recording of someone (oops I guess you don't ask that question to a soundman) What the hell could the US government and the USSR be recording with each other that needed these primitive recorders?
 
 

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 Thanks Marc,
 
The Story of my CIA issued  “Resin Recorder” - 1956-1959

Note:  I am showing these vintage tape recorders as part of my collection only.  They are out of service and no longer used in the manner they were designed, but remain a part of audio recording history.  It should not be considered in any way as endorsing or promoting any activity contrary to applicable laws and regulations.  

 
 
Before these little units, I’m going to tell you about were out,  the only small covert recorders were German made Minifon’s they used recording wire and miniature tubes that needed 3 different volt batteries. They were called coat pocket recorders because they could only fit in a larger coat pocket.
 
I believe after the first transistor radio came out in 1955  the US Government started experimenting with miniature covert recorders.
This is my opinion and I certainly cannot back it up with a Google search. There is just no information out there on exact dates and times.
This is what I base it on.
 
One of the most amazing finds on eBay that I was lucky enough to get. I didn’t wait for the Auction to end I contacted the seller and gave him a price to end the auction. 
As far as he was concerned it was a box of junk. For me, it was a little recorder that I have never seen before. Many of them.
This next picture is the only picture I have from that auction back in June of 2002 
 
As much as I made a big deal about the Evershed recorder and how rare it was, these are even rarer and impossible to find. The main difference was I had these resin recorders since 2002 and I never was able to find the Evershed. This type of recorder I never saw for sale anywhere but this one auction back in 2002.
 
There is no name anywhere on any of them and I have only seen one picture before and that was in another collectors want list on line. He didn’t have one just wanted to find one.
They are all hand made and wired.  The seller told me he found this box pictured below full of them in the back room a machine shop in upper state NY 
Which makes sense because these had to be machined why not hire a machine shop to make them, in this box was some amazing recorders.  That machine shop very well could have been a contractor for the CIA in the late 50's
 
The box contained what looked like experimental CIA recorders from the late 50’s and early sixties. I had no idea at the time but once I saw what they were I realized they were really old and primitive electronics.  I could tell some were used and maybe some back for repair? Some were incomplete but all were totally fascinating each one was different it is own little way. 
 
What you see in the lower right of the picture are the covers top and bottom. It looks like a bunch of parts but most were complete recorders. Included were a half dozen microphones a couple of headphones. 

 
hgBA9e5.jpg
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
 
I believe these were the first CIA covet spy recorders using transistors. I always call them the “Resin recorders”. I called them that because they were milled out of a sold block of plastic marble resin, all hand wired.   I believe these were being made when Nagra was working on the later Nagra II and the start of the Nagra III
The cool thing about this find is they were all different. 
 
The top and bottom were screwed down, to change the battery you had to unscrew it to open it up. To change the tape you had to unscrew the lid. It was a solid ready to go recording device that I don’t think was ever seen that small before.
 
Another strange option that I have never seen before on any type of tape recorder before was a 1 Inch square magnet shown it this picture. Its covered with a protective plate, the plate has a string on it.
If you were in a place where you were not supposed to be and you got caught with the recorder on your person,  you simply just pull the string and the 1-inch square magnet pops up against the reel of tape destroying what ever was on the tape.
The only recorder I know like that. 
 
22VBOao.jpg
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Shown below with the magnet deployed. Once deployed you cannot return the lever with the string until you remove the tape reel and push the magnet down as you slide the lever in. I guess you want to know if it has been pulled.
7nY3qmF.jpg
 
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These were not massed produced with names and advertising like the Evershed and Nagra.  The only marks on them were hidden 2 digit letters or numbers next to the pull string. This one says Z A
 
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This one says  A S.  Their lids had a rubber sealing gasket as seen here.
 
N0gVD0M.jpg
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Number 2
 
IUkqsZ1.jpg
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Serial Number 15,  you can see the machining marks on each of them. It's a hard rugged non bending non cracking plastic.
 
rtzc2MS.jpg
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The wiring was as primitive as it could be. They would drill holes in the plastic and insert the transistors, capacitors, resistors etc in the hole. All hand wired.  
 
piUDGpD.jpg
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Seriously these were not some massed produced recorders, these were hand made for the CIA.  This is the bottom of the two channel stereo model. Inside those drilled holes sits the transistors etc.
B0Uzxtn.jpg
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This it the deck of the two channel model its wider it has the reel nuts but I don’t have the special reels for it. I figured back in 2002 I would find another, fat chance.
 
y3hBAxI.jpg
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The controls of the two channel, notice channel A and B  on this one. Could this be one of the first two channel covert recorders?
Mx7GoXE.jpg
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This one had a see through window. 
upjasGh.jpg
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Look at this stack of the first CIA first transistor covert recorders, each one is a little different. Some have tape guides to show how much tape is left. Some H and L tone control maybe? The bottom one, a stereo recorder as small as that in the late 50’s. Until someone says different this maybe the first two microphone covert recorder?
 
Now, how lucky was I to find these very rare historic CIA recorders. How do I know that if there is no information out about them? 
I have been telling this same story for years to other collectors,  to my three letter friends etc. I or anybody else that I know could never find any information on these. 
So how do I know they are CIA issue? Well, I just found that out last night. 
 
H6OWIFn.jpg
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
 
 
 I am a little embarrassed to say this but….
 
Remember the link I posted about the Evershed recorder in the last post?  Well, I found that link way back on Dec 4th, 2015, the day I first learned the name Evershed from the eBay auction. The day I first had a name to do a search.
 
I must have looked at that Evershed link 6  times or more and read through the highlighted Evershed part.  I sent that link to both my sources. I showed my wife, my son, I posted it online for all to see.
  
Ok,  so you go to the link the article for the Evershed is right there and you read it.
You scroll down in the article and the next story is about Alternative politics for alternative technologists (whatever that means) you scroll up and the previous story I thought was New gelly sniffer. (whatever that is)
 
Yesterday while looking at the link again, I scrolled up more because I wanted to see if I could buy that 1974 back issue of the New Scientist.
Boy oh boy, how in the world could I have missed that, Some tape recorder collector half ass researcher I am.
 

Are you kidding me!!!  Absolutely the only place that I ever found information anywhere about these resin recorders and it was right there, right in front of me,  for almost 4 months and I never looked at it.  Here is the link again check it out for yourself   http://tinyurl.com/zfkoptz 

HRMeTEu.jpg
 
What does it show and talk about?  My Resin Recorders, Finally!!  I have been looking for documentation on these recorders since 2002,   (Again not knowing the name,  its hard to search for something.)
 
So that Evershed recorder really paid off for me. Finally, by knowing the name Evershed I was also able to get information on these very early spy recorders I already had.   was never able to even find an acknowledgment they ever existed before.  
From that article, I know they were used by the CIA  just as I always thought they were.
 
This article states this model below and a wire recorder model (which I never knew existed) Now another one to look for. See it never ends, there is always another one. We just don’t know that much about these secret past recorders.
 
It states in the article these two recorders go back 5 and 10 years. Don’t believe it - NOT TRUE - if they meant they learned about these two recorders in the last 5 or ten years maybe that is what they meant.
Don't forget the year of the article was 1974 so they meant 1969 and 1964
 
Also, they messed up in the article about which one is the "Wire" recorder. The 5-year-old "wire" recorder is the upper one. (and is at least 10 years old not 5)
The ten year old lower one is the "tape" recorder (not wire) (and is at least 15 years old not 10 as they state)
 
It’s like I said before if “they” the CIA are using the recorder NoBody Knows About It,  that is why its called a covert recorder, it’s a secret, its hidden from view. The CIA doesn’t tell anybody what they’re doing especially if they were using what may have been the first transistor covert recorder.
 
The time period on this recorder is the late 50’s  Not 1964 as the article implies, by 1964 they were 3 or 4  models ahead of this 1st primitive resin recorder. I have the next models. They were experimenting with these in the mid to late 50’s I believe.
 
Proof the article in the New Scientist is wrong about the date, The Washington  DC International Spy Museum has the next model of this resin recorder as I do. It’s on display in the museum and the caption says 50’s and 60’s.
 These next two pictures show the 2nd evolved resin recorder with the resin body and the hinged metal lid and bottom as it sits in the museum. 
 
qqqYncR.jpg
 
Pki2lDz.jpg
 
Here is my same model of the 2nd resin recorder in my collection. 
 
2HLYpZs.jpg
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
 
 
By the way that Museum in DC does not have these first resin recorders that I have in this post.  As I have been told. I have never been to the museum.
I’m talking about these Resin Recorders below they don’t have them.  I know 3 people that have them and they all got them from me.
 
Now you see why I call it One of the most amazing finds on eBay, for me anyway.
Especially if they turn out to be the first transistor covert recorders as I think they are.
These were the first big leap from the coat pocket size tube recorders.
 
GhZqpJn.jpg
 
Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
 
 
 

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More really fascinating stuff, thank you so much for posting.

The permanent magnet for erasing the tape reminds me of a 1/4" tape recorder an American friend of mine had, back in the 1960s. It had a collar that slipped over the capstan so that it would record at the correct speed whether it was receiving a 50Hz or 60Hz mains supply. But its erase head was a small permanent magnet inserted on an arm that swung forward to contact the tape in Record mode.

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Thanks Nick

It is strange they used a magnet and string.  Since most if not all future covert recorders did not have erase heads or magnets. Except the next model up from this one had a separate erase head.  That would be the worse thing to do is accidentally erase a one time recording for evidence.  Ahh excuse me, remember what you told me the other day, would you mind saying that again I messed up the recording.  Not like the movie business, OK people, take two !

Maybe the thought behind the magnet was, if they catch you recording, quickly pull the string and say What?.... I wasn't doing nutin !! ....prove it. 

Another reason to talk to someone who actually used it.

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