Spy Gear History

Spy Gear History

Spy Gear: History, Technology, and Devices

The use of spy gear has evolved from time immemorial. While movies have made some of these devices to look like mere fiction, you will be stoked to realize that most of these ingenious gizmos are actually real.

Spy Gear refers to all the equipment used to study behavior secretly. These tools are ideal for use at home, at work place, and during war to keep an eye within the enemy lines.

The History of Spy Gear

The use of spy gear dates back to ancient times even before the birth of Christ, 2000 years ago. In 500 B.C the Spartans and the Greeks invented a device known as a Scytale. This encryption tool involved wrapping a parchment on a cylinder of a given circumference and writing the message on it lengthwise.

The encoded message would only be read by the person with a cylinder with the exact circumference. The Scytale was commonly used in battlefields given its high level of secrecy then.

In the year 1466, Leon Battista Alberti invented the Alberti Cipher. This was among the first polyalphabetic ciphers. It consisted of two disks (stabilis and mobilis) with engraved letters and numbers on them and attached together by a pin.

To create a hidden message, the sender would pick an index letter and give it a different sound by rotating the mobilis (movable) disc over the stabilis (stationary) disc. All corresponding letters would take the sound of the numbers at the top.

This meant that to decode a secret message, the sender and the receiver had to use the same formula.
In 1776 the Silver Bullets were invented. They were small objects the size of the musket ball with hollows that concealed the message. They could be swallowed by the spies using them to deliver messages.

In1778, Dr. James Jay invented the Sympathetic Stain that was used by George Washington’s spies to deliver messages from London to America. The messages were written on a white paper using a special ink (made by James Jay) that made the letters disappear.

The message would only reappear after another special liquid (made by the same guy) would be used. To make things even harder for scrutinizing Britons and any other person, the messages would use a special code that involved giving each letter of the alphabet a different letter.

In 1864, the infamous Coal Torpedo was invented by Thomas Edgeworth Courtenay, a Captain with the Confederate Secret Service. It was made up of a hollowed iron filled with explosives and covered with coal dust to resemble a piece of coal.

These hoax pieces of coal were used in the American Civil War. When used with real coal in a vessel’s firebox, the explosives would cause a catastrophic boiler explosion that would at least damage the engine or kill the crew and even ship the vessel at worst.

In 1916 the Pigeon Camera was invented and used during the World War one. It was used by militaries to take reconnaissance photos of the battle ground and the enemy location. These pigeon cameras have been said to have saved a lot of lives during the war.

In 1940, the World War 2 saw the invention of the Playing Card Map. This was developed by the US and British intelligence agencies. The map was embedded on the card in the sense that when the card was soaked the map would appear.

Within the same period, the Fake Monopoly Board Game was made by John Waddington LTD in partnership with the M19- a secret branch of the British Government. Their outfitted boards contained maps, files, and compasses in the image of the playing pieces, real gold and German Currency.They were distinguished from the other by red dots on the ‘free Parking Space”.

In the 1950s, the M44 CYANIDE gas gun was invented. It consisted of a hydrogen cyanide gun that was concealed in a newspaper. When used on the face of a target, this chemical would lead to shortness of breath, cardiac arrest, or loss of consciousness.

In the 1960s, two devices were invented, the Microdot camera and the Shoe Heel Transmitter. The Microdot camera took photographs then reproduced them in a miniature dot which was concealed using a ring, a pen or a letter. It was later placed under a microscope for viewing.

The Shoe Heel transmitter consisted of a transmitter and a microphone fitted on the heel of the shoe. It was invented during the Cold War by Soviet agents and was used to tap conversations of unsuspecting American Diplomats.

The above devices are some of the spy gears used in history. Several other tools were invented and used between 1970 and 1979 including the rectal escape kit, kiss of Death or Lipstick Pistol, model F-21 Button-Hole camera, tree stump bug, cyanide glasses, T11-51 Dog Doo Transmitter, and Bulgarian umbrella.

Modern Spy Gear

Today, spies have had to reinvent their tools of trade in order to stay ahead of their enemies who are getting smarter each day compliments to the advanced technology. Here is an overview of what the modern spying technology has brought.

Types of Spy Gear

1). Spy Cameras

Spy cameras have been used in history for various reasons and under different circumstances. This technology has evolved over the years from big and visible spy cameras to invincible cameras mounted on various surfaces.The first spy camera was mounted on a pigeon during the World War 1.

The modern spy cameras include:

Spy Pen Camera – this device captures both videos and audios by just switching the button on/off. It is conveniently placed on the shirt pocket. This gadget resembles a typical pen but it consists of a mini USB port and a storage card. The data can be easily transferred to any other device such as computer via a USB cable. Spy pens come in different recording resolutions and storage.

Glasses Camera – these glasses resemble your regular glasses. However it has an invisible video recorder and can record up to 2 hours of non-stop footage. This is because it has a powerful 280mAh Li-ion battery. It is much preferred for is ability to conceal the camera.

Mini spy button camera – this very small camera can be fitted on the shirt with matching buttons. This gadget goes without being noticed and gives non-stop recording.

Spy watch – this device is made up of a camera fitted inside a watch within its dial especially where number 6 is supposed to be. It is used to either take pictures, record videos or audios. It has quite a clear resolution and high storage that is in-built. The information can be transferred to a computer for use.

Socket spy camera – this is a camera fitted on a socket which starts working when plugged to a power source. It is used to mainly monitor a room immediately there is some motion. It also has a storage that stores the information which can be easily transferred to a computer.

Portable Alarm Clock Spy Camera DVR with Motion Detector – this is a camera fitted inside an alarm clock and placed in a room. It has the ability to record videos and audios with excellent resolutions. It comes with a remote that the user can use to trigger the spy feature.

Drones – these are among the latest entrants in this arena. A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle that is effective for spying targets from the sky. It can record videos from as far as a bird’s view. It is mostly used for intelligent spying and comprises a quad copter that is fitted with a camera. The gadget transmits information to a phone hooked to it through Wi-Fi. It may fly up to 1000 feet upwards and 2000 feet in other directions.

2. Audio spy devices

These are spy gadgets that record sounds only. They include:

Nano wireless earpiece – this device can be used in a close meeting especially in a group. The device is placed inside the eardrum and is removed by a magnetic strip. It helps to tap and record sounds that are transmitted between mobile phones.

USB Flash Drive Voice Recorder – this gadget is used to record audios. The audio recorder is fitted on a USB flash. It can be used in private conferences, secret meetings or on any confidential meetings. It has the ability to record 6-8 hours voice recording non-stop.

GSM Audio Bug – this gadget has the ability to make a call to the user from anywhere in the world. It can be used to detect car burglary.

Phone Recorder – this is ideal for recording phone conversations. It is preferred for its portability and its ability to store audio recordings for a long time.

Wristband Audio recorders – this device looks like a simple wristband with an audio recorder embedded on it. It is activated/deactivated with just a touch.

3. GPS Trackers

GPS Trackers are used to track an object in motion. This could be a person or a vehicle. These devices use the Global Positioning System. GPS trackers record data that is stored in the system or transmitted to a data base of a computer connected to it by GPRS,radio etc.

Here is a list of GPS trackers on the market today

Yepzone one personal GPS – this device is mainly used to track the elderly. It refreshes the GPS signal after every 10 seconds. It is a simple device that can be worn by anybody or even attached to a pet’s collar to help monitor their movement.

Pod 2 GPS +WI -Fi – this device if good for pets. It is designed to fit on a collar. It records the location of the pet as well as its activity level.

Vectu – this device is suitable when tracking cars. It works anywhere within the 2G GSM signal. It gives the user location after every 6o seconds. It can also provide 90 days tracking history in case you are not sure where your car has been.

STI-GL300 Real-Time GPS Trackers – this can be used to track people, vehicles and equipment. The data is got through the internet and can be accessed from a tablet, phone or computer. It sends the owner phone and email alerts so that they can avoid missing the details. Its battery lasts for 2 weeks.

XT-2150 HARDWIRED Real-Time GPS Tracker for Vehicles – this tacks vehicles and transmits the data over the internet. The data may be accessed from anywhere through a phone or a tablet. It also sends email and phone alerts helping you to keep track of the vehicle’s location.

iTrail GPS Logger – ideal for tracking people, equipment and vehicles. It is good at retrieving and downloading past movements. It can be viewed in Google maps for accurate data.

Spy Gear Used For Personal and Military/ Government Use

There are a number of spy devices that are used for both personal and government use. Devices include:

Thermal Imaging Camera – this spy device is very useful especially at night. It provides a clear vision on the target. It is ideal for home security and military spying.

High power binoculars – this is a powerful device that can be used for long-range spying. These binoculars can also be used when studying/viewing during a game drive.

Personal Sound Amplifier – this device is able to tap conversations from a very long distance. The device is able to amplify the sound clearly such that the user does not miss a sound.

FLIR i7 Thermal Imaging Camera – this device is made up of a 2.8-inch LCD color screen. It also has a thermal sensitive and rechargeable battery.

Spy Pen Camera – this is a stylish pen that has a pinhole camera that no one can tell. It is ideal for use in a government meetings where conversations and people present are not supposed to be recorded. It can also be used in personal offices to record behavior of the employees and those who get into your office.

Video camera glasses – these glasses record videos in high definition discretely. The glasses have a storage device that stores the videos in AVI format. They can record a video for up to 80 minutes. The user can retrieve the data by transferring it to a phone or a computer for easy use.


The use of spy gear has been embraced from time immemorial for different purpose. The advancement in technology has made it possible for people to develop diverse devices that are useful in the military, government, and also for home security.

There are different spy gears on the market today. These gadgets come at varying prices depending on their versatility and the level of technology used in them. All in all, it’s very likely that the market has something for you in case you feel vulnerable.

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