Spy toys at the CIA museum

3033350-slide-pigeoncamera1A gallery at Fast Co Design has some of the cool tools of spycraft.

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  1. The top-10 list contains mostly just cameras. Kind of boring.

    There's a more detailed exposition, here, linked from the bottom of the article.

    The exposition's interface sucks. The fixed-layout is unsuitable for longer descriptions as they have to be scrolled through.

    Some gems:
    * Cufflink compass
    * Radio receiver in a smoking pipe, with bone-conduction speaker
    * Distortion measuring set (well, not exactly a spy toy, rather a telco thing, but many telco things can double as spy toys)
    * Dynazoom microscope for simultaneous viewing of two negatives to get stereo imagery from aerial cameras
    * Insectothopter, a miniature UAV, impressive for 70's and even today
    * Gap-jumping antenna, for magnetic coupling of signals
    * Digital xray sensor panel
    * Seismic intrusion detector
    * Microdot camera (okay, okay, it was in the top-10 list; what would be nice would be a more in-depth description of the microdot tech)
    * Escape/evasion kit
    * Various flavors of multitools
    * "Belly Buster" drill
    * Silk-printed maps (paper rustles, and silk is durable enough)
    * Caltrop tire spikes
    * SOFLAM laser target designator

    All in all, the online-shown artefacts are somewhat underwhelming. E.g. no sign of the Thing, the SIGINT/ELINT is only touched on the surface, no TSCM.

    Two books about the spy operations I suggest are:
    * Robert Wallace, Henry Robert Schlesinger - Spycraft - The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs, from Communism to Al-Qaeda
    * Peter Wright: Spycatcher
    Each one is worth the time, and they are the best when consumed one after another; the first one is written in a rather bragging style, from ex-CIA guys, the second one in a more down-to-the-Earth one that mentions even the CIA's (and MI5's) blunders, from an ex-MI5 guy.

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