GADGETS

Vintage Spy Tools of the Cold War & Beyond

For an international man of mystery, a private dick, or a crack-shot G-man, spying is a dangerous business that demands the most advanced data-gathering tools available. See the full gallery at Life.com

Vintage Spy Tools Opener: Mini Cameras

Small cameras and microfilm rank with bugs as essential old-school spyware. Whether capturing top-secret blueprints or an adulterous spouse, spy cameras needed to be as small as engineers and designers could make them.

Andreas Feininger/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Vintage Spy Tools: False Documents

Having several seemingly authentic sets of documentation is a must for any operative in the field. Seen here: Soviet identity cards used by Peter S. Deriabin, the highest ranking USSR official to defect to the West. Deriabin worked for the forerunner of the KGB, and even served as Stalin's personal body guard at one point. The CIA called the value of the intelligence gained from his defection "incalculable."

Herbert Orth/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Vintage Spy Tools: Cane Camera

Camera hidden inside a cane handle, from the turn of the 20th century.

Bernard Hoffman/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Vintage Spy Tools: Buttonhole Camera

Seen here: a camera worn under a man's vest with the lens poking through his buttonhole.

Bernard Hoffman/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Vintage Spy Tools: Microfilm

Diagrams of U.S. tanks, planes, and other military essentials, obtained by Nazi spies and hidden in the back of a wristwatch via microfilm. (Much of the information obtained by these spies, it turned out, was phony, or planted.)

Thomas D. McAvoy/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Vintage Spy Tools: Light Switch Bug

In this bug the microphone is concealed in one of the screws, tapping into the power line to transmit the sounds of the room.

Stan Wayman/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Vintage Spy Tools: False Envelopes

An FBI agent demonstrates how a message can be hidden in the lining of an envelope.

Thomas D. McAvoy/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Vintage Spy Tools: Cryptography

A tiny code book seized from an alleged Russian spy in England. Of course, all the information in the world is useless unless it can be communicated to those who need it (or are paying for it). Code books and other cryptography tools help agents communicate covertly. See the full gallery at Life.com!

Douglas Miller/Getty Images

Vintage Spy Tools of the Cold War & Beyond

For an international man of mystery, a private dick, or a crack-shot G-man, spying is a dangerous business that demands the most advanced data-gathering tools available. See the full gallery at Life.com

More From Our Sponsors