Fascinating Spy Gadgets Throughout the Years


Robot fish Charlie (1999)


Charlie was a catfish-shaped experiment intended to explore the possibilities of aquatic robot technology.

He was unmanned and controlled by a wireless line-of-sight radio handset, and he was supposed to collect water samples near sensitive aquatic sites like nuclear reactors without getting caught or detected in any way



T11-51 dog droppings transmitter (1970s)


Disguised as dog droppings to keep people from engaging, this radio transmitter and a homing device was used by the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War to convey supply movements at night.



Developed by the Confederate Secret Service in 1864 and dubbed the "coal torpedo." It consisted of a hollowed-out iron casting filled with explosives and disguised with paint as a piece of coal.

Documents that confirmed attacks with these torpedoes were burned, but it's believed that a number of ships were brought down by them.




Alberti Cipher


In 1466, Italian painter and architect Leon Battista Alberti invented what was dubbed the Alberti Cipher. It's thought to be one of the first polyalphabetic ciphers ever created, and it allowed messages to be easily written as well as later decoded.





The Microdot Camera (1960s)


This camera is hailed as one of the most crucial spy cameras of all time. It could photograph documents and reproduce them the size of miniature dots.

People could later conceal these dots inside letters, rings, pens or other objects, reading them with a microscope when the need arose.




In 500 B.C., the Spartans and ancient Greeks used devices called scytales. These tools took the form of cylinders wrapped in parchment or another available material. All the recipient would have to do to decipher the code was to place the material over a rod of similar size.