Most kids fantasize about growing up and becoming a spy, but for those adults who actually do become spies, sneaky spy gadgets are essential to the success of a covert operation. These nine sneaky spy gadgets are so ridiculously brilliant that you might not believe they’re real – but they are! Grab your Bulgarian umbrella, and check out the full list below.
Number Nine: Coat Camera. The coat camera is a classic spy gadget that is hidden in the buttonhole of a coat. Wearers of the coat camera could squeeze a hidden shutter cable to lift the fake button and snap a shot.
Number Eight: Microdot Camera. The Microdot camera was developed as an ingenious way to send hidden messages. Users can snap photos of documents, and then the camera will shrink the text via a chemical process down to the size of something no larger than a period. Prying eyes won’t know the difference!
Number Seven: Transmitter-Wielding Shoe. This clever spy gadget allows wearers to record everything just by putting on a pair of shoes. The shoe heel transmitter rose in popularity during the 1960s and ’70s, when Western diplomats based in Europe would order suits and clothing from back home. Their clothing would be intercepted in transit and bugged with the shoe heel transmitter.
Number Six: Enigma Cipher Machine. This fancy spy gadget was used during World War II to encrypt messages and prevent them from being intercepted. Though the machine resembles a typewriter, its keyboard was actually hooked up to electric motors that encoded it in a special language.
Number Five: Cipher Disk. This ancient disk was used as a way to send coded messages during the Civil War. The inner wheel could be rotated to displace the letters, and some Civil War sleuths would even use this to send coded messages that again had to be deciphered another time, allowing for increased protection.
Number Four: Bulgarian Umbrella. This umbrella is no umbrella – it’s a weapon! Inside a standard umbrella, manufacturers of the Bulgarian umbrella would put poison that could be easily injected into a foe via the umbrella’s tip.
Number Three: Pigeon Camera. Before drones, there were pigeons. Pigeons were once an easy, affordable (if unreliable) way for spies to track their surroundings without having to do it themselves.
Number Two: Tree Stump Bug. This fascinating spy gadget was used around Moscow in the 1970s to intercept Soviet signals and send them back to the United States via satellite. It was also solar powered, which meant that United States spies didn’t have to go and routinely power up the bugs, adding to its convenience.
Number One: Spy Gadgets – Fecal Transmitters
Finally, perhaps the most ingenious spy gadget of them all is this transmitter, which resembles a very non-threatening piece of dog poop. Putting a transmitter inside something so repulsive minimized the possibility that it would be tampered with or removed, let alone noticed.