Marvin Camras worked his entire life on improving means for creating recordings, including the invention of modern magnetic tape, which, for a few decades in the early days of computing, was the storage medium of choice. Camras received more than five hundred patents during his lifetime, nearly all of which dealt with recording technology. Some of his inventions included wire recorders, magnetic sound for motion pictures, and multitrack tape machines.
His earliest inventions involved wire recorders. Other forms of recording equipment existed at the time, but Camras’ invention involved a new recording head. Previous wire recording technologies often resulted in the twisting of the wire, which caused playback distortion. (Camras initially invented wire recorders to record the singing voice of his cousin, who wanted to be a professional singer.) Camras also introduced high frequency biasing to the recording. By adding a high tone above hearing level to the recording, Camras was able to reduce the signal-to-noise ratio of the recording, improving overall audio quality. Camras led the change to tape recording. The ferric oxide compound Camras developed for magnetic tape recording later would be used in computer diskettes.
His recording invention was used in the late 1930s and early 1940s by the American government and the Allies to fight World War II. One of the most famous uses of his technologies was the recording of fake battle sounds the Allies used during the D-Day invasion of France to fool German soldiers as to the real landing locations. The equipment Camras developed recorded and amplified the battle sounds to make them seem realistic.
Camras was born Jan, I, 1916, in Chicago. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1940, a master’s degree in 1942, and an honorary doctorate in 1978 from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Camras taught most of his adult life for the Illinois Institute of Technology, retiring in 1994. Camras enjoyed education taking night courses as an adult in biology, physics, chemistry, and political science. He also built musical instruments.
Camras was inducted into the Inventors hall of Fame in 1985 and received the Nation Medal of Technology from President George Bush in 1990. He died June 23, 1995 after a long illness.
Source: Smart Computing Encyclopedia Copyright 2007 Sandhills Publishing Company