Stefan Kudelski, who founded the Kudelski Group in 1951, has died. He was 84.
Kudelski invented the first portable professional recorder, the Nagra, said to mean “will record” in Polish, Kudelski’s native language.
Kudelski led the company until 1991, when his son André succeeded him as chairman and chief executive officer. The elder Kudelski held a seat on the board of directors of Kudelski until 2006, and since had served as its honorary chairman.
Recorders were the company’s mainstay products for decades, until it branched out into conditional access and digital rights management. Canal+ was among the company’s first major conditional access customers. In 1995, Kudelski scored a prominent customer win for its digital access system, delivered with the Nagravision label.
The Kudelski Group diversified further in 2003 with the acquisition of MediaGuard, and again in 2007 with the purchase of middleware specialist OpenTV.
Kudelski was widely acknowledged as being among the prominent pioneers in sound recording, being credited with the development of a range of recorders used in the radio, motion picture, television and security industries.
In 1983, he entered the hall of fame of motion picture and television by receiving the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers’ (SMPTE) John Grierson International Gold Medal. He also earned Oscars from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1965, 1977, 1978 and 1990, and Emmy Awards from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1984 and 1986.
“Stefan Kudelski was one of those personalities who contributed to the international reputation of Switzerland. Anyone who knew him could only be impressed by his sharpness, his incredible culture, his curiosity and his permanent sense of humor. Stefan Kudelski was more than a brilliant inventor; he was a man of values, a fine mind that will live on with us for a long time,” said Claude Smadja, vice chairman of the board of directors of Kudelski SA.
“With the loss of Stefan Kudelski, our Group will miss its founder and the inventor of the Nagra recorder. Stefan Kudelski defined our Group. The values he stood for form the foundation of our company and its reputation today across the five continents. Among those values, the determination to demonstrate that technological challenges described as impossible are always successfully achieved by teams that know no boundaries,” said André Kudelski.