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Nagra Stories Sound-men won’t ever tell

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Thanks Vienna 

 

I used the same power pack I used to charge up the battery on the first VPR 5 I had from Nagra.  After a few minutes of charging it allowed me to get it to play, rewind stop etc.

 

So this new VPR-5  6 or 7 years later did not come with a battery pack, So I asked the person I sold my first VPR-5,   to send me a picture of the battery because the rear of the VPR had 3 connectors in a row.  I needed to know which was plus and minus. So that is why I used 12 volts, but I see in this picture it says 14 volts on the battery. My guess will work in that range 17 to 12 volts. I never did anymore because I have been looking for the proper Nagra VPR-5 battery charger.

That was almost 2 years ago, Since then I bought an adjustable 0-30 volt DC power supply.  I will try it again with the proper volts and videotape what my VPR-5 does and does not do. Maybe by seeing it in action, you will be able to tell what is wrong, if anything.  

 

irDTQje.jpg

 

 

 

Remember the show Seinfeld, remember when George was moving his Pac Man machine.  When it comes to schematics with me, Just show me the holes. Where do I put the plus and minus? 

 

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:-) always glad to help ... BTW: my VPR works fine when I connect 12V to the battery contacts, saving you the cost for the Lemo connector (these guys ask prices for their hardware that make you think the plusg were made from platinum).

The battery itself would of course need new (NiCad) cells, way too expensive if you don't need to do field recording.

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The Third Covert Recorder - 1963-66

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.  

 

 

I wrote this some time ago based on information I believed at the time as true as to when the first Nagra SN came out. Later Nagra said 1965 date was wrong for the SN, So I waited and waited since August 2016 and no correction was ever made in their history. I had this up for a day or so and took it down to wait and see what happens.

To this date, they did not take it down or correct the 1965 date on their Milestones in History page  “1965 the US Agencies start using the Nagra SN secretly” 

So here it is again This time with the video at the bottom.

The third recorder, the “gray recorder"

First of all, when I say first recorder, second recorder etc. that is because that is all I know.  I certainly would not be surprised at finding out there were other US recorders in the years between 1956 to 1966. But I, or anyone I know, do not know of any other US recorders at this time. They're  not in any books on the internet or in anyone's collection. That doesn’t  mean they don’t exist - we just don’t know about them. Over time maybe more will show up.

That’s ok when I say that is all I know, because if someone else knows something about these recorders, by all means, please speak up. That is the only way we will find more information about these little recorders. Again you will not find this information in books and magazine ads. All I can do is see what I have in front of me and tell the difference between the models until the Nagra SN.  After the SN it's much easier to know what was used,  it was the Nagra SN series.  There were others but they came later on.

This next set of pictures shows the third model that I have, again buying a bunch of these at once “the gray painted recorder.” I say gray painted recorder because they are painted all gray inside and out, I have seen one of this model for sale in the past as buffed shiny aluminum. That was because the gray paint was stripped off and the aluminum buffed to a high gloss. This may look impressive a nice smooth, shiny recorder but an agent in the field would not want to wave around a highly polished unit in his hand.

Compared to the first and second recorder I showed previously in this thread.  It no longer has any plastic on it at all. It’s also much thinner in size with the deck now only the height of a pencil.

 

 

bdadhHN.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.

No longer machined and milled out like the first one, but now the bottom is a rugged die cast aluminum base with a hinged stamped aluminum top cover,  a screwed-on aluminum back cover, plus now a separate battery cover. No longer any plastic or plastic resin.  And for the first time using only two tiny watch batteries for power - one for the motor and one for the amplifier.  It also has two channel microphones.

 

 

VR0nmig.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.

This third model recorder was much more advanced than the others before it. With minimum circuitry and no adjustments but neater and now two channel with a totally different control mechanism.  No more outside knobs or controls at all, but kept the wired on/off switch just like the previous model.

 

 

BFeBTlQ.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 circuits are laid out nice and neat.  A big difference from the very first two-channel one shown below when you compare the two. This third model was clearly more mass produced but still produced in low numbers. 

 

I always thought this recorder was circa  1964 

But I found out In this model pictured very early IC’s were used, replacing the transistors. The IC’s are dated 1966.  In other words, this can’t be a 1965 recorder but the same recorder in 1965 could have had transistors. 

 Again with the RTV white silicone around the flywheel. Shown below with the first 1957 recorder that may look more primitive but it was very well built. The last one shown is the second model.

 

kldAf0z.jpg

wQYFaIq.jpg

jg7PwRe.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 include these pictures below from a year old eBay auction to show these Gray Recorders spanned a few years. Here is an example of the Gray Recorder "Buffed". You can see where the paint was removed and buffed to a high gloss. Again very pretty, but not what an agent would want. 

Also, note this Gray Recorder is pre-1966 with transistors.  Not the 1966 advanced IC chip model I have.  I had a few of these, I wished I knew about, looked and checked before selling to see If I had transistor models also. It would be nice to own a transistor example also.

Since there are no serial numbers or any other information to go by, If I had to guess, I would say this series of the “Gray Recorder” was from 1963 to 1966. 

Ending in 1966  because the US Agencies started using Nagra SN secretly.  As shown below.

acRGss4.jpg

FZY6VNm.jpg

u9eyw9P.jpg

 

 

 

Up next shown side by side with the second recorder.  Now smaller, slimmer and smoother. They still had no markings, names, or serial numbers on them.

1966 was a good year I guess in U.S. covert recorders, look at that shiny little spy recorder of 1966. So simple but rugged and small.  And unknown to anybody at the time soon to become obsolete because of the soon to be newly-released Nagra SN

 

 

BANMSz5.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.

You can’t drive a car over that second recorder without smashing it, but it wouldn’t even affect this third model. (I do think the first recorder would also withstand a vehicle drive over, but not the second.)

 

 

FBDinNA.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.

 

All tape control on this new 1966 model is done by the one lever at the head. Play, Fast forward and Rewind from the position of that one lever. 

This was also as I said a two channel unit. A two channel unit to record with 2 microphones that must be plugged in to activate the recorder function. To playback the tape, the headphones must be plugged it. No longer separate outside the case knobs for PLAY and REC.  Same as a Nagra SN  it depends on what is plugged in as to the operation record or playback.

 

With this model, the evolution of these early spy recorders was starting to get closer to the rugged streamlined look as their successors the SN, SNST and the JBR. The SN’s did have the one outside control lever. The U.S. must have been so impressed with the SN compared to what they were used to, they put up with that lever. Apparently, there was no room on the SN to have the lever inside the case. 

I’m sure that was a problem and the reason for the later lock mechanism by the meter that showed up in the early 70’s. 

 

This third model was the latest in improvements and you can see with each model over time. But they all still had one problem, the sound quality of the playback. Technology improved tremendously with the Nagra SN, SNST and JBR all evolved based on what worked and what didn’t on these first recorders.

These recorders were the pre-Nagra covert recorders.

 

 

Fo7gY0i.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.

There was also never any name on this little gray recorder like the others before it.  It was kept secret as to who made it at this time. This recorder was made in 1966 with brand new IC chips of the time. Maybe it was made earlier also with older transistors, I don’t know. But this one shown can’t be earlier with 1966 ICs.

 

OK the year on this recorder is 1966. 

===============

 

The first Nagra SN’s in 1965 were painted with flat gray paint with no “Nagra” name on it just like the secret recorders I have before it. As it turns out this third covert gray recorder was out in 1966 and so were the first Nagra SN’s, at the time. No one outside of government agencies knew of either.

The first Nagra SN’s looked just like these ones below.  

 A sixmoons picture from Nagra’s collection.

 

vdI4AXJ.png

 

And the second picture of the first Nagra Sn in Mr. Tim Blackham’s collection below. Two no name Nagras of three that I have ever seen.

 

3p7ZB4t.jpg

 

And a third no name Nagra SN which I own, although I thought mine was an earlier Model.  I found out it is a 1972 model.  It would be nice to know the serial numbers of the other two. There is a discrepancy about these first Nagras as to when they were first made or sold?  Or first sold secretly, as close as I can determine it was sold secretly in 1965.  I did confirm the existence of the Nagra SN prototype and confirmed it was never produced or sold - it was just the prototype which evolved when produced to the SN we know today. Nagra was kind enough to provide me with photos of the prototype. But not so on early SN information.

 

 

5CGeeXl.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.

As you can see all three are painted gray and with (NO) lever lock by the meter and no marking of any kind whatsoever.

 

From what I can tell my Nagra SN  below is one of the first Silkscreened Nagras it is just like these three above except this one now has the red silk screen labeling. The year on this one is 1973.  Also, notice the circled SN where the lock now sits on later models.

One other thing to note is the gray paint on this silk screen model is a low gloss finish whereas the non silk screen models before it was plain Flat gray.  As one would think a government issue covert recorder would look like. After this model, they dropped the gray paint altogether.  

Nagra claims the first SN’s did not have silk screening on them because the factory was just learning about silk screening at the time. Funny my 1957 Nagra II has some pretty nice silk screening all over the deck still in perfect shape.

Or was there no silk screening because the US Government in 1965 wanted it that way just as the recorders they used since 1956. No names, No marking. 

The no name Nagra’s were the Government issued Black Series in my opinion. Can't be confirmed. 

 

K3tvGYQ.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.

 

How could it be possible these two recorders were built about the same time in 1966? 

The clear difference between the two recorders of the day is why Nagra became the world’s leader in covert recorders from this point on. 

 

7xuRQVL.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.

 

It boggles my mind the Nagra was so much more advanced at the time. But I understand why the U.S. government wanted a better recorder.

 

 

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The 1966 Covert Recording - Video

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.  

 

Below is a video I made earlier this year of my gray recorder in the last post above.   The recording was on the tape when I bought the recorder in 2001 on eBay. The voices are most likely from 50 years ago, back in the day when the recorder was used as a covert recorder.

The correct batteries don’t exist anymore, at the time I made an adaptor to be able to use a more common button cell battery.  I was able to play back this recorder with the tape briefly when I first got it but it needed a lot of help playing the tape but you could hear that it was a recording between two men.

A few months ago after writing about these recorders and after 14 years of owning it, I figured I would try and get it working again. The recorder needed some work to get it to play on its own.

 I could probably play the tape back on another newer machine but that would not be the same as showing it working on the 1966 original machine it was recorded on.  So the playback is what it is. The unedited tape I made was 3 minutes long. 

In this video, I edited out the inaudible parts. I didn’t change the order of what was being said at all. I just cut out the inaudible parts in between.  

Shown below the 1966 microphones compared to the later 1984 JBR microphones.  JBR,  the last tape based covert recorder from Nagra. The difference in sound quality between these two and the ability to later adjust the sound with the playback unit was an amazing difference. I could only imagine now 50 years later and even 32 years since the JBR, what the difference is with today's technology.

Which microphones would you want to be taped to your chest, when you're wired up to record in a smoke filled room guns cocking with some of the most dangerous people of the time?

 0OGh99j.jpg

 

I have no idea who, what, where or when the tape was made. I hesitated if I should show this or not but showing the recorder in the above post working with the original sound recorded on the tape from 50 years ago is fitting for this subject and shows exactly just what these little recorders were used for. 5 decades ago.

So if you want to put your headphones on 

Click on the video below,

It's 1966, your man just came in from the field, It’s your job to see if he captured some incrementing evidence on the wire he was wearing.  The recording is all you have to work with. Can't go back tomorrow and ask the same questions, can't say Cut, take 2.  If this was an evidence tape it would not have been left on the recorder. What a tough job these guys have. 

Just another day at work for some, and we think our jobs are tou

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The Fourth Recorder - 1967-68

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. 

 
Almost done guys, one more after this, The final one
 
This next recorder here is the fourth recorder I have in the series of little recorders.  This one is very close to the third recorder except now there is a name on it.  And it’s been in the movies.  EDI is the name with a non-painted aluminum lid  and a greenish gray wrinkle type finish base,  and for the first time a removable remote on/off switch that is attached to the microphone plug or headphones. It was made by EDI  Electro Data Inc in the USA  
 
Hmmm all the others before had a hard wired remote control switch could that have been what the agents have been asking for, since now the new Nagra SN of 1965 had a removable remote switch. From this point on, no other covert recorder ever had a hard wired remote control switch again.  Again since 1956 these little recorders paved the way for the Nagra SN with what worked and what didn’t.
 
Why now a name when for the last 10 years or longer no recorder ever had names,
not even the Nagra SN.
 
That's easy, if you put the pieces together. 
Government sales started to decline or stopped altogether after 1966 because the U.S. Agencies were starting to use the “new” secret Nagra SN (Black series) Made exclusively for them. 
Now the other manufacturers did not have to keep their little recorders a secret anymore - they probably were no longer under contract with the US government which meant they better expand or fold up.
 
Just like every other outdated secret covert recorder the U.S. government used.
They are all a secret when they are using it.  Just like the SN was secret, the SNST, the JBR - all were secret.  The CBR still is if you plan on buying one except the manual got out and they can’t get the toothpaste back in the tube.  I read it was a mistake that the manual got out.
 
Just like today there are recorders being used we do not know about. 
We only know about the old technology when they are done with it. The Agencies started using the Nagra SN  2 to 3 years earlier when I think this fourth EDI recorder came out.
 
I think the manufacturers were now selling to private investigators and law enforcement.  Private investigators and law enforcement did not know anything about the secret Nagra SN at this time in 1967-68-69, no one did. In 1971 the Nagra SN was presented to the public and later Nagra had their name on it.
 
So if you’re finally allowed to sell them publicly you no longer just have only one customer the US government. You now have to call it something if you want sales to many different customers, so they started with names on the newest models.  
Otherwise it’s funny that the names just so happened to start showing up right after the secret Nagra SN came out in Dec 1965-66  
 
 
 
NBLgLIJ.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.
 
This one added a pin on the lower right hand side of the deck, this is a connection for an auto stop by means of a strip of metal tape.
It makes a connection between the pin and head assymbelly trigering shutting the motor off. 
 
 
y0Kd6a4.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.
 
Shown below the third and fourth covert recorders side by side.  Besides the removable on/off switch just a different color scheme and now sports a name. 
 
ytIJrSY.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.
 
A manufacturer’s name, a serial number and made in the USA  for the first time. This picture below is from an eBay sale of the same type recorder. Mine did not have this name plate and may have been on purpose since this recorder was in with the group of gray recorders I bought.  But this nameplate is the first ID of all these little recorders. With serial number.
 
 
hrCmwMh.jpg
 
Not sure if the same company made both of these recorders, but one looks like a government covert spy recorder and the other looks like it was made to appeal to the customer.
 
XBIjxYy.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.
 
NBLgLIJ.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.
 
This 4th recorder was featured in the 1971 movie Klute with Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland.  Most likely a JWsound member recorded that movie. 
 
Now remember, if you saw that recorder in 1971 in a movie, the CIA was no longer using it (if they ever did use this model).  So 1967-68 may be about right for the year of this recorder, again just speculation.
 
The Agencies were surely using the Nagra SN in full force by the time this little recorder was featured in this movie. 
I had no idea this recorder was in this movie until my old three letter friend of the yellow recorder days told me to rent the movie. 
I always saw the Nagra SN in movies but never one of these little spy recorders. 
 
Here is the clip.  Notice it’s the later named EDI model, not the CIA model gray painted one, they removed the name on the plate but you can see they had to plug in the remote switch and the erase pin by the reel. So it’s clearly the same fourth model recorder.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Covert Recorder # 11 or something else
 
 
Shown here are a couple of pictures that someone sent me yesterday, after reading my post of the fourth recorder the EDI .  Asking what the CR #11 means in this picture below of an EDI recorder.
The CR # 11 was also on a very rare Minifon recorder he owns.  He was asking if it's just a coincidence or does it mean something. 
 
He says about his:
In Germany there was the so-called "Braunbuch" a list of all devices used in the radio.  All test devices for magnetic sound recording had the code "CR11".  My black Minifon Mi 51 also.
 
I don’t know what it means.  The EDI is from the late sixties made in the U.S. and the very rare Black Minifon Spy version wire recorder that he has was made in Germany in 1951.  This person I know which I won’t name is from Germany and has written a few books on the subject of tape and wire recorders.
 
It must just be a coincidence I think, but certainly I’m not sure.  What could CR # 11 mean for both of these recorders?  On the EDI, I first thought it was the person’s initials and  # 11?  
 
NcDQgKu.png
 
 

 CR 11 - is that some sort of spy code? That spans almost two decades between two countries? Minifon did not put that label on the recorder as the owner said.  The Minifon's are top notch quality and that name tag with the giant off center screws does not match Minifon quality. The tag was installed by some German agency.  What does CR11 mean on the EDI?  

 

 
zl07WN2.jpg
 
 
 
 
 
Something I did notice in that EDI picture above that he sent me, Is it shows only one microphone. I have seen this picture before but never put it together about the one mic.  All the earlier gray painted recorders I have or had were two-channel recorders. 
The EDI shown is a one-channel recorder with only one Mic.  I never had the microphone for my EDI - I just assumed they were two-channel, so this was news to me. 
So this new information about the EDI recorder could mean this is a model that was not used by the U.S. government as I thought since the name was placed on the recorder.  
 
This may be further proof this recorder, the first I know to have a manufacturer’s name, came out right after the Nagra SN was released as stated by Nagra on their  Milestones in history web site.
 
===========================================================================
How did I get this new information?  Someone contacted me through my pictures on the internet and provided me with new information.  And this is the point of this post.
 
 
I am sure some of you are probably wondering why the hell I keep posting all this stuff on Jwsound that no one really cares about.  
 
To be honest, I post for two reasons:  Other than originally finding out about Jwsound when I first realized people on this site used the machines I have been collecting for 25 years, I thought wow these guys are famous.  Famous movies they helped make,  forever in history, their names are in that movie.  I know the sound men on this site just consider it’s just another job for them, but I and the people I know do not look at it that way.  It has a very big wow factor whenever I tell the story about you guys recording movies.  Look at the movies they recorded the sound for.  The things we all take for granted when watching movies.
 
Let’s face it - Movies are a big deal, in this country and around the world.  Knowing you soundmen and women who record a movie, it’s a big deal.
When I saw the list of movies Jeff and others have done and realized these are the people who actually used the Nagras in their careers it was just amazing and a big deal for me!!  Like I said before when I show people my collection, and I tell them the story of you guys and how you used these recorders to record sound for these movies, it’s a big deal.  For some reason when people associate the recorder with a movie, their eyes light up.  It’s definitely a “wow” factor - more than the recorder itself.  Recorders are as boring as can be to most people.  It’s only a select few that are interested, and I know that.  So maybe when I get to the movie factor it brings them back to reality.  I guess it normalizes why someone would collect these.  Same with the spy recorders - if you give them a reason why the recorder was used, it’s more appealing.  
 
Hands down that was a big plus in finding JWsound. 
 
So that was the beginning.
1.  To show my Nagra collection. There’s only so much you can talk about there.  Ok, I show the collection and I learn things about Nagras that I didn’t know how they were used etc. Still just amazing to know the people who used these to record movies. Ok.  Then I start to show more of my collection with the little covert recorders and  Nagra’s collection of covert recorders.
 
2 Turns out now the reason I have been back to posting these covert recorders is to get more information from someone who may know about these recorders, maybe someone who actually used these before. 
I want to find the Jeff Wexler of spy recorders that used these little recorders in his career, the guy that would love to talk about them just didn’t think anyone was interested or cared.  Can you imagine the wealth of information that person from that time period could provide? 
 
I didn’t realize this until recently this thread has over 42,000 views. I have been on Jwsound now for 2 years in January and I realize that a lot of people are looking at this. Why?
My pictures now are all over the internet.  At first, I didn't like that at all, I didn’t think Google would have picked them up as they did.  Every time someone clicks on one of my pictures they are directed right to JWsound.  The views have been going up 1,000 per week for the last couple of months and, as much as I would like it to be, I know these numbers aren’t from just JWsound members.
  
Someone must be interested in this thread.
Or most likely what is happening is people click on, read two of my sentences and say - I’m outa here.  That counts as one view.  That's more likely why the numbers go up.  But that's OK,  I only need the one guy I’m looking for.   I look forward to the day I make a connection with the person who can provide the answers to these covert recorders and the first Nagra SN, just like I made the connection to Jeff and JWsound.
 
I also hope Jeff allows me to continue to post and of course edit.  As you guys can tell from this thread, I’m not the greatest writer.  Edit for me is a big deal as you probably can tell.  It’s a strange thing to be able to edit on a forum, usually you only have a few hours and then it’s a lifetime post on the internet.  If not for the fact I could edit, I would not have posted anything to the extent I have, not even close.  Nobody would ever have seen my collection or read what I write.  For that, I appreciate the opportunity to be posting on JWsound and the patience you guys have shown.  
 
Whatever I learn about my recorders and Nagra recorders, you can be sure that information will be posted here first on JWsound. 
If anyone has any information on any of the recorders I post, especially on the first Nagra SN, or has any stories to tell or other recorders they think I should add to my collection, please contact me through JWsound.  I can assure you your identity will be kept private as is mine.
Thank you.
 
 
 

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Finally, Fifth and Final of the first 15 years

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 fifth little EDI type recorder was made in Japan for the Amerx  Corporation all the others were made in the USA
This is far the most advanced unit of these small covert recorders going back to the 50’s. It's still reel to reel but now the reels are inside a cassette. This unit has voice activated start /stop of the recording. Pretty advanced for 1971
I must say this is a fine quality well-built unit. 
psX8z5A.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.
 
Shown with the other only named recorder in this series of like recorders.  Designed to please a new and different group of customers. 
 
cegX9E3.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.
 
CQVoq2r.jpg
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Called the Alpha One, even had a fingerprint logo on the lid. With operating instructions. Does this look anything like the former CIA covert recorders? 
 
 
 
dydUbuJ.jpg
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Shown below of all the little recorders I have from 1956 to 1971 with the back covers off.   I’m sure there are others that I don’t have or know about, but this seems to be the standard design for this 15 year period.  Now when you look at the insides of these recorders, you’ll notice the 1966 had the advanced IC chips and the next later EDI 67-68 had 1966 transistors.  
Could this be because one was designed for the US government and the other a less expensive copy to sell to private investigators and law enforcement?
The little gray recorders were also out before 1966 also with transistors the model I have is a 1966 version of that model, the first year the IC was out.  
Notice the basic style has not changed in 15 years.  
Could all of theses recorders have been made or designed by the same person or company?
 
g0kQ0Pr.jpg
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If you go by my theory about why the names started showing up on the last two models shown. 
The simple fact they had names could be more proof the Nagra came out at the end of 1965 Just as Nagra says it did or didn’t as you can find both versions on their conflicting web sites. 
 
What is the largest noticeable difference in all these CIA recorders? What has been the one constant since the beginning? The difference is the Names.  
Look at the pattern, no names all the way up to 1966,  1967 the names start on the EDI recorders. What happened in 66-67?
I'll tell you what happened the no name Nagra SN's started to be used secretly by the US Agencies. 
Now if you insert the Nagra SN in this bunch shown above, the No name recorders continue on with the Nagra until the early seventies.  Nagra’s name did not show up on the first SN until 1973.
  
Why in 1973 did the names start on the SN? ..........No, it was not because the factory was learning how to do silk screening as a Nagra employee recently told a person in an email. 
Even though the Nagra SN was knowingly sold since 1971 still without the Silkscreen Name. It also was still being sold to US agencies which required no name's on it at the time.
 
So what happened in 1973?

I think It was because of the highly secret SNST 2 channel recorder made in 1972 delivered in 1973.   Now, that the US had their “New” secret Nagra SNST.  Nagra was now allowed to put their name on the SN line and expand worldwide

.  
 
Just like what happened to the last little EDI type recorders shown above. Same reason they started with names?  
Below the EDI and the Alpha one - Look how boldly in 1971 the Alpha One displayed their name,  not only on the front but also on the back,  a CIA recorder?  I have my doubts.
 
 Does a real CIA recorder have to advertise? If they did, it's the first time in 15  years.
 
gjNQspp.jpg
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What have you ever bought that had no name on it,  anywhere on the product?  Anyone who makes a
product wants to promote sales of their product has to have a Name on it if they want more sales.
Unless of course,  you only had only one special customer and were not allowed to release any information about your product. 
 
As Nagra says in the Milestones,  world wide expansion from 1974.   I take that to mean now with names on the recorders they were being sold everywhere to anyone.   Except, of course, the Nagra SNST, the CIA's new secret recorder.
 
V4vnjWU.jpg
 
The SNST being secret from 1973 to 1984, What happened in 1984? The highly secret JBR. See how it works.
I believe when ever you read The Nagra SN was secret for ten years it was the SNST they are supposed to be talking about. 
 
From what I can tell Nagra always has its new products ready and for sale the previous year. The Nagra III was made in Dec 1957 but first sold in 1958.
When they say 1965 it was sold in 1966, they said the SN was made in 1970 and first sold in 1971 it is a pattern with Nagra.
 
All of these little recorders were secretly used, there may have been more US covert recorders in these early years.  I don’t know; this information is never found anywhere.
I could be pretty close to being accurate, or I made a lot of mistakes. At least I took a shot at it and now its out there subject to correction or speculation. 
The bottom line is Nagra is King of covert recorders and still is today.
======================================================================================
 
After five years of the US secretly using the Nagra SN from 1965-1971 by 1974 Nagra was the clear unsurpassed leading manufacturer of covert recorders world wide, with the Nagra SN, SNS then later years the SNST, the JBR the CBR and as far as I know the latest is the Nagra CTR and the Nagra CCR.
I know what the CCR is, but I never saw one. I don’t know what the CTR is.
 
 
To finish up 
I’m not telling you anything that you can’t find yourself on the line, just like I found the information online about the CCR, in more detail than I would post about it.
 
The last three Nagras we can’t buy, the Nagra CBR, the Nagra CCR  and the Nagra CTR.  There are pictures and manuals on a line of the CBR but the Nagra CCR has never been seen before, or the CTR.
 
Could it be these are Nagra’s latest secret recorders?  Could be, but I’ll bet there are more recorders,  if they were actually secret,  there would not be any information on line at all if you ask me. I think it's done purposely just to throw you off track, a little tease to think this is it, but the latest ones whatever they are must be really kept secret. 
 
The CCR could be at least 6 years old. Have you ever seen or heard of it before?  Based on everything I have been saying about the history and period of these covert recorders and showed (what I think) the reasons behind my reasoning, so what does that mean?  

"If you know about it, they're using something else."

I took a screen shot of them both because these tend to disappear on me over time.
 
9Lwd7rA.jpg
 
hFSshCe.jpg
 
I believe the CCR has been out since 2010. There is some information but NO PICTURES anywhere of the actual unit or playback unit. I have never seen it. 
 
Interestingly,  in 2011 Nagra developed the Nagra “ID” credit cards. Could this be a by product of the CCR
research?  They sold that ID division in 2013 from what I understand.
So we can assume the CCR is one cool high tech little recorder.
Why are all the specs on line? I have my thoughts on that also as I stated above.
 
Watch this Nagra credit card video. It will all become evident to you about the advances Nagra has made in this field, in the video, notice they stopped just short of saying what else they can do with this technology. 
 
Everything I have shown from the first 1956 early covert recorder to the JBR seems mighty primitive now.
 
 
A picture of inside the Nagra ID card from the video above.
 
2Thf1aF.png
 
 
 
 
==============================================================================
So I’ll end this 1 year long post of my early covert recorders with the picture of the Nagra ID credit cards.  I’ll leave it to your imagination of what the latest Nagra covert recorder could look like. 
 
3TzdUkE.jpg
 
 I do know my picture below would not be as cool with a credit card “recorder” on the newspaper,  instead of the ultra famous Nagra SN. 
Let's face it; there will never be a recorder as cool as the Nagra SN again.
One thing is for sure, if there were a credit card on the Newspaper until now, you would have looked at the picture forever and never would have put it together.
"A real covert recorder, hiding in plain sight "
 
fAh1WLb.jpg
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Just a quick note about the Nagra ID card: Nowadays Kudelski SA´s main business is data security products and, mainly, encryption for various types of broadcast. The audio section (Audio Technology Switzerland SA) is split completely from the mother company (Kudelski Group). So the Nagra ID card is completely in line with the recent company profile, which is unfortunately not so intriguing as the original profile. But seemingly much more commercially successful... Still, it is not seen every day that a high tech company was started 65 years ago and is still successful.

So I guess that if they are still into covert recording, it will probably have been as virtualised as their software portfolio. And infinitely more boring...

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Hello, I just registered on this forum (but been reading this thread for a couple of months) and want so say that your collections and knwoledge are very impressive! 

I find this thread as the best place for source of information on vintage Nagra recorders. 

So here I am saying hello to everyone.

 

By the way, have you ever heard the rumor about J.F.K. administraton buying first Nagra spy recorders in Japan? Because Nagra sound quite Japanese. After reading this thread I know it's just a rumor. But that is what I heard in one interview (not with Kudelski himself) on radio some time ago.

 

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Hello, David thank you for joining, are you from Japan?

I have not heard the Japanese Story, is there a link you can post?  What year is your Nagra III NP?  

Thanks again for posting.

 

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If it has anything to do with JFK it's a myth. I have yet to be proven wrong.

See   The Nagra SN Story, as I see it.   Page 15 Post 373

Let my SN story be the popular story over there and maybe we will get some answers. 

 

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Yes,  Humberts it is a beautiful machine,  at first, I didn't think so, I thought the L or the 4.2 was better looking. But then I realized it's a true classic. Just look at the Deck top. Acid etched.  People that don't have one can't appreciate this recorder. They are very hard to find in excellent condition, most are really beat up. 

 

The spelled out "Kudelski" and all the bright trim around the speaker grill and all the edges are raised up by a good amount. But in reality, all the gray is etched out and is lower than the bright trim. There was never a more pronounced and famous deck lid on any recorder. 

Shown below The First 1958 Nagra III, the 58th one made out of 240

This was a man proud of his Name and his Product.

59CLXPP.jpg

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As he was of his company. Can you tell?

 

RbAZgFj.jpg

 

Then one day,  I get this email from Stefan Kudelski's daughter, which made me appreciate the Nagra III even more. 

Dear Mr ****
 
Thanks a lot for sharing your "Nagra collection" It looks great!
 
I'm glad to know that these devices developed by my father more than 30 years ago are still alive. My father would have appreciated it.
I share with you a link that one employee of the company shared with us.
 
We see that the Nagra Legend is still alive.
 
Best regards
 
Marguerite Kudelski
 
See what I mean how raised the letters are on the deck, shown best in the video.
Unless you guys are into Chanel No 5  you would have never found this video.  Although, I did post it earlier in the thread. 
The things I share with you guys ...
 
Does anybody want to see a "gold anodized" SN built especially to surprise Stefan Kudelski?  Maybe later...maybe.

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I do have pictures taken of a very small recorder that a Nagra rep demonstrated to me.

Case milled out of solid alum and the guts just dropped into it

He noted that the bias oscillator had the same frequency as quartz watches so it not be detected!

mike

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I thought that 67 means 1967. It sure is a true classic and deck top always looked more sophisticated to me than 4.2 or IV-S.

Your 1958 Nagra III looks brand new.

And please share a picture of that gold anodized SN. Pictures are part of what make this thread true interesting.

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You are correct Humberts, the first two digits on a Nagra III is always the year. You are just a few hundred shy of the prize  67 10000 

 

I actually have your Nagra III already in my data base. I take a picture of every Nagra III I come across to see the serial numbers for the different years.

 As of now, I have not seen the 1959 Nagra III.  I'm not really sure what happened in 1959. What year did the paint change from the Wrinkle paint as the Nagra II and 1958 Nagra III to the hammer tone gray of the Nagra III we know today? These are the very pressing questions that keep me up at night, (kidding) 

Everyone will be checking their serial numbers now. Post what you find if you want.  The one closest to the 67 10000 is the winner.  So far its Humberts at 9556

Note:

Nagra says 240 1958 Nagra III's were made. Notice the first date I have below for 1960.

If you find a 1960 with a much lower number than 60 530, like in the 400's that could mean even fewer if any 1959 Nagra III's were made.  So I take a picture when I see them. This is how I come up with answers. 

 

jM5dXI6.jpg

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I still have my last Nagra (IV-SL with both "Harvey" and "Q-Ruck" mods), but my 2nd III is the only recorder I've ever had regrets about selling, mostly because it looked so cool.  I wish I'd saved docs on its SN so I could enter the "10,000 raffle"!

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I guess this is what happens when you start talking about these recorders, sometimes they come out of the woodwork, very clean 1968 Nagra III up on eBay.  Someone in Switzerland must be reading these posts also. I guess he decided it's time to sell. Or it's just a coincidence. I do not know this seller at all.

 His pictures are the perfect example of the acid etching  I was talking about.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/NAGRA-III-mono-taperecorder-get-the-sound-of-the-50ties-/122264573753?hash=item1c77895739:g:6z4AAOSwo4pYTGyj

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Yes I saw that one too JBond, the top cover reminds me of a jewel watch face. Love the lid latches.

"Nagra (IV-SL with both "Harvey" and "Q-Ruck" mods)", Philip what is a Q-Ruck mod? Does your Harvey Mod have a 7" cover? Just wondering how it fit over the TC attachment.

 

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1 hour ago, MarkC said:

Yes I saw that one too JBond, the top cover reminds me of a jewel watch face. Love the lid latches.

"Nagra (IV-SL with both "Harvey" and "Q-Ruck" mods)", Philip what is a Q-Ruck mod? Does your Harvey Mod have a 7" cover? Just wondering how it fit over the TC attachment.

 

Yes, my Nagra has a 7" reel cover.  The Harvey TC display works fine with 5" covers too.

The "Q-Ruck" was an early Nagra IV-S time code mod built by SF-based engineer Bill Ruck (and financed by me).  He built an outboard box to contain the TC and 3rd head preamp components (with a small meter), which was used with an outboard TC generator.  For sync playback the box had connectors to work with the timecode resolver Andy Cooper made for the IV-STC (which combined the functions of the two outboard boxes that Nagra made to allow the IVS-TC to play back in sync).  The set up worked very well for about 3 years (recording and sync playback) until that machine became one of Harvey Warnke's "Original 6" Time Code Systems conversions.  My Nagra still has the extra Lemo connector on the right side left over from the QRUCK.  The reason for this stop-gap mod was that the film world of that time: especially commercials, music videos and high-end corporate parts of it, decided to go with CTTC location audio recording very quickly, and most of my major clients suddenly demanded that their location sound be recorded this way.  Meanwhile, the factory Nagra IV-STC was out of budget range for many of us, was highly problematic in its early years and was kind of underperforming compared with what we were used to in the mono Nagras.  Harvey Warnke and Andy Wiskes saw the need for a cheaper, much higher performance CTTC Nagra, but it took them a number of years to design and prototype their system, and I needed to make a living....

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Great history, Philip, I remember so well when the demand was made for timecode recordings, most specifically in the commercial world. I was the co-owner of Northstar Media Sound Services and the majority of our transfer work was servicing commercials. Everything was shot on film, of course, with sound recorded on mono Nagra --- ¼" tapes were turned in to us to transfer to single-stripe mag to be synced to picture and then sent over to Telecine to prepare for editorial. Somewhere along the way it was discovered that you could shoot film, photograph a running timecode clock/slate, record the sound on a recorder with timecode and these elements, the film after processing in the lab and the sound tapes going directly to telecine to be synced with the picture. This bypassed the sound transfer process that had been the core of Northstar's business for over 15 years. We even provided dailies syncing service (we had an in house editor) along with our sound transfer service but when timecode in production came in, our commercial clients didn't need either of our primary services. Additionally, as Philip points out, sound mixers were faced with having to use the stereo Nagra with some method of putting timecode on the tape. Most of us did not own the very expensive Nagra 4-STC but quite a few did obtain stereo Nagra with one of the mods Philip mentions. What I don't remember in all of this was the modification that someone was doing to MONO Nagras to provide timecode recording. I explored that route, converting one of my mono Nagras to timecode but never did it. Pretty much stopped doing commercials as I was very busy doing movies back to back. The need for timecode in feature films came along much later.

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I do remember that odd period, where movies and the biggest commercials (that I was on) were still in a mono-Nagra/mag film dailies mode and the Tech Business Corpo and other commercials etc were all on CTTC tape.  The people I did a lot of work for then (One Pass Inc, in SF)  were one of the first post houses doing the telecine audio sync thing, mostly because it made for more big$ billable hours on their Rank Cintel.  The QRUCK was my way of avoiding having to rent and use the Coherent Systems timecode add-on for the Nagra (as well as needing a way to do TC sync playback for music videos etc)..   The mono Nagra TC mod I saw was by Neil Stone--it "burst" a few seconds of TC at the start of each take, that some post systems could grab and then flywheel on (for the length of a short commercial take anyhow).  The people I was sending tapes to (in SF, LA and NYC) were not interested in that approach at all--they were only set up for CTTC tapes, so we rolled our own methods until Harvey came along.

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Philip, what exactly is "CTTC"? I'm not familiar with what those letters mean. Thank you for remembering Neil Stone. The idea that we could keep on using our tried and true (and paid for) mono Nagras was very appealing. Some of the resistance in the commercial world to this transition and insistence on the use of timecode came from the high profile Directors of Photography that had gotten very used to seeing their work "on the big screen" (real film projection in screening rooms) even though everyone knew that the commercials would really only be seen on the little screen --- TV. The economics of the savings by going straight to telecine with processed negative (no positive film print needed) and directly with the sound (¼" timecode tapes) fairly rapidly won out and the DPs just had to go with the new workflow.

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Center Track Time Code.

Yes--I remember going to projected 35mm dailies for commercials and movie jobs--it was a nice tradition for everyone to see what we'd done together, on the big screen before it was cut.  It was a daunting experience for a PSM--your one Nagra track was going to get played quite loud and hifi for everyone: they were going to hear all your fader moves and mic position choices and how well your boom op followed the ball etc etc.   I attribute some of the loss of respect for location sound recording by other depts. to the end dailies projection: now the only people who hear our audio is us (plus a few folks on lofi Comteks) until it gets to the editors.  My buddies @ One Pass figured out that they could make a lot of money by doing video dailies with their new telecine machine and they sold all the agencies and prod cos on the savings and speed of getting to (1") video and into editorial, and that was the end of film dailies, at least for me.

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