Friday, July 18, 2014

The Central Intelligence Agency’s astonishing private museum in Langley, Va.

The CIA Museum, housed in the agency’s headquarters just outside Washington DC, showcases some of the most impressive artifacts officers and operatives have acquired throughout the Cold War and the global war on terrorism. It’s a collection of spy gear – cameras hidden in matchbooks, a remote controlled fish – and items collected from some of the agency’s biggest successes, like Osama bin Laden’s assault rifle. Yahoo News got an exclusive look at the collection, but herefrom the CIA’s own catalog are some of the treasures hidden away in the most intriguing museum you’ll probably never visit

Dragonfly Insectothopter
Developed by CIA's Office of Research and Development in the 1970s, this micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was the first flight of an insect-sized aerial vehicle (Insectothopter). It was an initiative to explore the concept of intelligence collection by miniaturized platforms. (Courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency

Enigma Machine

During World War II, the Germans used the Enigma, a cipher machine, to develop nearly unbreakable codes for sending messages. The Enigma's settings offered 150,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible solutions, yet the Allies were eventually able to crack its code. By end of the war, 10 percent of all German Enigma communications were decoded at Bletchley Park, in England, on the worldâs first electromagnetic computers. (Courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency)

Rat 'Dead Drop"
This desiccated and hollowed-out rat corpse is designed to use as a "dead drop" -- a mailbox to pass messages between a CIA officer and a local agent without the two of them risking a face-to-face meeting. Dead drop items are typically either things no one would look at twice or so disgusting that people won't go near them. (Andrew Rothschild for Yahoo News)
CIA Semi-Submersible
CIA designed and manufactured this two-man semi-submersible in the 1950s. It carried no weapons, was cramped, had limited endurance, and required a "mother ship" for transport and recovery. However, the vessel could approach areas ships could not. (Courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency)
Tessina Camera Concealed in Cigarette Pack
Miniature spring-wound 35-mm film camera in a modified cigarette pack. The Tessina's small size and quiet operation provided more options for concealment than most commercially available models. (Courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency)

Silver Dollar' Hollow Container
This coin may appear to be an Eisenhower silver dollar, but it is really a concealment device. It was used to hide messages or film so they could be sent secretly. Because it looks like ordinary pocket change, it is almost undetectable. (Courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency)

Gap Jumping Antenna Out of US Embassy in Moscow
What looked like a concrete ball was actually a 'gap-jumping antenna' removed from one of the preformed concrete columns in the embassy office building. US investigators called it âgap-jumpingâ because it coupled magnetically with a matching antenna in the adjacent column. This allowed data to be transmitted without a physical electrical connection. (Courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency)

Pigeon Camera
CIA's Office of Research and Development developed a camera small and light enough to be carried by a pigeon. It would be released, and on its return home the bird would fly over a target. Being a common species, its role as an intelligence collection platform was concealed in the activities of thousands of other birds. Pigeon imagery was taken within hundreds of feet of the target so it was much more detailed than other collection platforms. (Courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency)

Robot Fish "Charlie"
CIA's Office of Advanced Technologies and Programs developed the Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) fish to study aquatic robot technology. The UUV fish contains a pressure hull, ballast system, and communications system in the body and a propulsion system in the tail. It is controlled by a wireless line-of-sight radio handset. (Courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency)

The Dynazoom was a state-of-the-art device for stereo viewing of satellite and aircraft film in the 1960s and 1970s. It optically couples two commercial microscopes capable of magnifications up to 300x. Using these tools, analysts could extract maximum intelligence from stereo image pairsâbut setup was not easy. Unlike todayâs highly automated stereo viewing of digital imagery, analysts had to manually and painstakingly align film and adjust the microscopes to view images in stereo on the Dynazoom

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