The pigeon camera, patented by German-born Julius Neubronner, was used to monitor the whereabouts of troops during World War I. Strapped to the bodies of highly trained pigeons, the cameras would photograph automatically at timed intervals, capturing a li
The tiny microdot camera was used to photograph documents in the 20th century, producing images smaller than a punctuation mark. The images could be easily hidden in pens or other inconspicuous objects to be read later with a microscope.
In the 1960s, KGB, the Soviet security agency, created a shoe with a microphone, batteries, and a transmitter embedded in the heel. Once a target put on the pair of shoes, the agency was able to listen to all of their conversations and monitor them closel
The Steineck ABC camera watch was invented in Germany in 1949. Spies could subtly snap pictures while simply pretending to check the time. However, they had to use each frame carefully, as the watch could produce only eight exposures and there was no view
The first commercially successful telephones were developed in the late 19th century, and law enforcement agencies started tapping wires on telephone networks shortly after. Early wiretapping involved placing extra wires in lines between the switchboard a
In the 1970s, spies used miniature cameras hidden in lighters to photograph their subjects. They could casually light a cigarette while the subject was unknowingly being photographed. Now, you can buy lighter cameras online for as little as $9—although be
This “tree stump bug” was planted in Moscow in the early 1970s. Fueled by solar power, the stump blended into wooded areas as it intercepted communications signals from a nearby Soviet air base, which it then sent on to a receiver in the United States.
In 2013, National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden publicly leaked documents about PRISM, a mass electronic surveillance data mining program that NSA had been running since 2007. The program allowed the agency to collect information from pr

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