Hound Dog Bug Detector And Phone Sweep Unit, 1950’s/1960’s

The Hound Dog Bug Detector And Phone Sweep was state of the art portable countermeasures for the 1960’s. If you owned a set, almost every detective agency in town wanted to see it and “barrow them.” They were made by R. B. Clifton and cost what would be about $2000.00 for the set by today’s standards. The Hound Dog was a portable RF bug detector which is shown on the left. The Phone Sweep was a tone sweeper that would let you remotely sweep a phone to turn on any hidden microphones which the unit could then detect. This was state-of-the-art countermeasures for the 1960’s. There were many countermeasures services that offered remote tone sweeping of telephone lines in these days. There were some agencies that even offered monthly remote tone phone sweeping services for a monthly fee.

Via Spy & Private-Eye Museum.

Kiev John Player Special

Dating from 1978 this is a Kiev 30 (23mm (f3.5-11); 1/30-1/250. 13x17mm format) concealed inside a package of “John Player cigarettes”. Supposedly, these cameras were designed by the KGB to use in the United Kingdom. It is very unlikely that this was a KGB design as the camera would never pass for a packet of cigarettes except by the most cursory glance and some variations lack the space for a real cigarette. These seem to have been engineered in the Ukraine to sell to gullible westerners and where first sold for 2000USD. Now typically under 100USD they are an interesting addition to the Kiev family of subminiatures.

The top of the camera is open, showing the filters of fake cigarettes. One butt sticking out is used to advance the film. The normal aperture and shutter speed setting are at the bottom of the pack.

The most common version is shown above. It was sold in a larger, fake, JPS cardboard box with a spare film cartridge.

Via Submin.

KEL / Bell & Howell SK-8 Audio Surveillance Briefcase.
American recording device in attache case from the 1970’s. (Via)


“Belly Buster” Hand-Crank Audio Drill

CIA used the “Belly Buster” drill during the late 1950s and early 1960s. It would drill holes into masonry for implanting audio devices. After assembly, the base of the drill was held firmly against the stomach while the handle was cranked manually. This kit came with several drill bits and accessories.

Via Tools of Tradecraft: The CIA’s Historic Spy Kit


Kiev Speccam Detective Camera

The version shown here is a modified 303, gold plated and leather bound case made to resemble a note book, complete with pages and a pen to write notes with. The pen holder opens up the camera ready to shoot and the shutter release is under the note book pages. You can’t set shutter speed, aperture or focus without removing the casing. The casing is fastened by a single screw.

There are reports of another version, based upon the Kiev 30, with gold plated cover housing a lipstick case and mascara holder in an art deco case with handle.

Check out the link for even more pics.


Microdot Camera

The secret transfer of documents became very difficult during the Cold War. Agents relied on the microdot camera to photograph and reduce whole pages of information onto a single tiny piece of film. This piece of film could be embedded into the text of a letter as small as a period at the end of this sentence. Microdots were also hidden in other things such as rings, hollow coins, or other mailed items. The recipient would read the microdot with the aid of a special viewer, often cleverly concealed as well.

Via The Central Intelligence Agency’s Museum

The 1946 Great Seal Bug Story

In 1946 our ambassador to the USSR was Averell Harriman. The Russians pulled a fast one on him. They had Soviet school children present the ambassador with a two foot hand craved great seal of the US which Ambassador Harriman hung in his office. In 1952, a countermeasures survey revealed that the great seal contained a bugging devise. That means that for six years, the Soviet Union had the ambassador’s office bugged. On May 20th 1960, Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. revealed the great seal bug to the UN.

The actual bug was very ingenious. Any sound made in the room caused a spring to vibrate. Eavesdroppers outside the building could then pick up the vibration measurements from the spring and turn it back into sound.

The microphone hidden inside was passive and only activated when the Soviets wanted it to be. They shot radio waves from a van parked outside into the ambassador’s office and could then detect the changes of the microphone’s diaphragm inside the resonant cavity. When Soviets turned off the radio waves it was virtually impossible to detect the hidden ‘bug.’ The Soviets were able to eavesdrop on the U.S. ambassador’s conversations for six years.

Via Spy & Private-Eye Museum.

snooping anyone

From The Realist Vol.67 | 1966:

Other grape-pit size transistor mikes have become available as the space age has developed,some from Japan for as little as $14. Private detectives specializing in divorce cases use one which can be secreted in a man’s food.

When he swallows it, the warmth of the man’s stomach powers it, and it emits a high-frequency beep which can be picked up on a receiver 300 feet away. Another pill, with a different beep, is secreted in the food of the mistress. If the operative hears the two beeps together coming from the same room, he knows the two are making more than beautiful music together.”

“A Paranoid’s Guide to Bugging” Ramparts (1968)
Via Babylon Falling