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Marvin Camras papers, 1940-ca. 1990

Identifier: 031.07.10

Various black and white images (prints, negatives, contact sheets) of Marvin Camras, some with wire and tape recorders; some head shots. One shows him in a posed laboratory setting wearing an Armour Research Foundation lab coat. One color slide with TV set. One with Marvin (and Isabella Camras?) holding "Magnetic Society Information Storage Award." (NOTE that additional photos of Camras will be found in other collections. See 1998.053 for complete listing.)


  • Creation: 1940-1980
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1940-1980


Language of Materials

Records are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Research

Collection Size

20 Items

Biographical Note

Marvin Camras (1916-1995), a research scientist at Armour Research Foundation (later Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute), experimented in magnetic wire sound recording, inventing and improving machines and wire coatings. He is best known for his development of the first commercially practical magnetic recorder in 1944 and was popularly known as "The Father of Modern Magnetic Recording." Much of the work was done during WW II under contract with the U. S. government. Over the years, Camras received ca. 200 patents for his inventions and improvements. Through Armour Research Foundation, these were made available for commercial production via licensing to such companies as General Electric, 3M, and Eastman Kodak which produced various models as military equipment, business machines, and for home use. Still later, he expanded his research into tape recording and audio recording for film and television. His research efforts became the basis for today's audio and video recording and computer data storage. Camras studied at Armour Institute of Technology (a predecessor of Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago) where, in his senior year, he built and demonstrated a machine which recorded and immediately played back sound. He received degrees in electrical engineering from IIT in 1940 and 1942. An honorary doctorate was awarded to him in 1968. He joined Armour Research Foundation (IIT's contract research affiliate) directly after his graduation and continued at ARF and IITRI without interruption, retiring as senior scientific advisor ca.1986. He then joined the IIT faculty as a full-time research professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, retiring in 1994. Camras received various awards during his lifetime including: The National Medal of Technology, 1990; Inventors Hall of Fame, 1985; Inventor of the Year Award, 1979 (The Patent Law Association of Chicago); John Scott Medal; Washington Award of the Western Society of Engineers; John H. Potts Memorial Award, IEEE Consumer Electronics Award; U. S. Camera Award for Outstanding Contribution to Motion Picture Photography; the Institute of Radio Engineers PGA Achievement Award; the IEEE Information Storage Award; and the Coors American Ingenuity Award, 1992. He received the IIT Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 1948, the Alumni Medal in 1978, and was inducted into IIT's Hall of Fame in 1981. He was honored posthumously with the creation of IIT's Camras-NEXT (National Excellence in Technology) Scholarships. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineers, and a Fellow of IEEE, the Acoustical Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. Camras was married to Isabelle Pollak Camras and had four sons and one daughter. He pursued photography (entering photos in local shows) and music (including making violins and giving lectures) as serious hobbies. He lived in the Chicago area his whole life. He is the author of Magnetic Recording Handbook, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., ca. 1987; Magnetic Recording on Steel Wire, Chicago: the author, 1942; and the editor of Magnetic Tape Recording, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, ca. 1985. He gave his collection of professional papers and equipment to the Paul V. Galvin Library (IIT, Chicago) in 1987 where they are available for research in IIT Archives. Information complied by Catherine Bruck, University Archivist, October 9, 2001, from materials in IIT Archives/Drop Files/Marvin Camras __ __Armour Research Foundation (ARF) was one of the first private, not-for-profit contract research laboratories in the United States. Begun in Chicago in 1936 by Armour Institute of Technology (AIT), ARF was acquired by Illinois Institute of Technology in 1940 when IIT was created by the merger of AIT and Lewis Institute. Re-named Armour Research Foundation of Illinois Institute of Technology, it was later reorganized as the IIT Research Institute (IITRI). Under all its iterations, the laboratory conducted research for commercial and government sources, expanding to an international operation. Per IIT President John L. Anderson's April e-newsletter to the campus community, "In 2002, Alion purchased the non-life-science assets of IIT Research Institute.... IITRI remains an IIT-controlled company and is led by David McCormick, who is also professor of biology at the university.... [In March 2010] the university received a cash exchange for our final holdings of bonds and warrants in Alion...." Source: IIT Archives (Chicago)


These are either vintage prints and negatives or the only known copy of a given image; all should be treated as primary source material.

Related Material

See list in 1998.053 Marvin Camras Papers


Catherine Bruck, University Archivist

Part of the Paul V. Galvin Library. University Archives and Special Collections Repository

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Paul V. Galvin Library

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