New CIA Site Displays Real-Life James Bond Spy Toys

New CIA Site Displays Real-Life James Bond Spy Toys

Laura E. Hall
Feb 23, 2011

Did you know that the CIA invented the lithium-iodine battery? How about microdot technology or tiny, insect-sized flying vehicles? Neither did we, until we browsed the recently relaunched CIA website, which boasts social media tools as well as a museum dedicated to its most awesome, formerly secret gadgetry.

The newly launched Central Intelligence Agency website presents a friendlier side of "the Company" as well as making available a lot of content previously only accessible via private museum visit.

It's all a result of the government's Open Government Initiative, designed to "ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration."

The site has features on the agency's role in historical events, a YouTube account, and a Flickr stream with photographs of relevant memorials, events and buildings.

But it's the virtual museum that is the most impressive. It displays a wide and impressive range of technological innovations, as well as some spy gear worthy of James Bond.

Some gadget highlights:

  • CORONA Film - film used in the 1960s for the first successful photographic reconnaissance satellite. Never take Google Earth for granted again.
  • Stereoscope and Case - a tool to help photo interpreters view photos of enemy territory in 3D. Today, we can't get away from 3D, whether it's in theatres or our home TV sets.
  • Tiny cameras, including one worn in a tobacco pouch and another designed to be carried by pigeon
  • - Many of the film cameras included in the exhibition are tiny, including the Minox at 2.8 cm x 10 cm x 1.6 cm, allowing spies to snap photos of propaganda and sensitive documents, or to gather information about territory (in the case of the pigeons). Makes you appreciate your point-and-shoot, no?
  • Cryptography machines - includes the famous Enigma cipher machine, whose code was decrypted at Bletchley Park in England. It was capable of producing 150,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible solutions. Now Captcha and complicated passwords don't seem nearly as bad, do they?

Check out the new CIA site and museum, and let us know your favorite spy gadget in the comments below.

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