With all the depressing, worrisome news floating around this summer about the NSA, spying and metadata, sometimes it's good to take a break and indulge some nostalgia for the good old days, when spying seemed a little bit…sexier. A little more Bond-y, if you will.
Except that, even in 1966, the government had "been electronically spying on its citizens for years," as the author of this 1966 LIFE Magazine cover story writes. Except LIFE was talking about putting a bug in the olive of your martini, not cataloging every single phone conversation you've ever had.
The author goes on: "Despite the protections against invasion of privacy afforded by the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, bugging is so shockingly widespread and so increasingly insidious that no one can be certain any longer that his home is his castle--free of intrusion." Sound familiar, Edward Snowden?
Though the fact that we all carry cell phones everywhere we go makes it even easier to listen in on someone nowadays, snooping was a novel, rapidly expanding trade in the '60s, as technology allowed smaller and smaller eavesdropping devices (sugar cube sized! LIFE gushed). Microphones in wristwatches and cuff-links, hidden transmitters in pens and innocuous-looking paintings of fruit--some labs were even experimenting with putting body-heat-powered FM transmitters in animals.
See more Bondtastic gadgets in the spreads below. Click the image captions to see the pictures in full screen mode--with a little squinting you can read most of the text.
Part of the story had to do with the developing of technology that could hide within or behind facets of everyday life that had existed for decades or longer.
Not necessarily so much so today. How many people really realize that the way the entire computer age was designed facilitated, if not was deliberately created to, permit invasion of privacy?
How many “deleted” files from their computers, only to find later on that computers never removed information, from memories, they only took away the name assigned to an area of memory, making it an officially recognized readable file? But software or hardware that could access bit by bit everything on a hard drive could obtain everything on it! Many crooks didn't realize it, either, supposedly, although one can wonder how much “identity theft” derived from that. And is still deriving from it as “refurbished” computers are sold overseas!
The internet itself, though, was obviously open for this, with the interchange protocols, it was designed for it! How many know the channels, connections, ports that all represent ways into their computer? How many know that they seem to have developed a method of “attaching” an independently acting virus to .jpg picture files to infect computers where the files are opened?
They put out the “millennium bug” hogwash to see just how stupid the majority of computer users were that they would believe early programmers only two two digits of the year in memory “to save space”! That showed how many could be fat pigeons for the plucking.
By those who, among other things, don't realize the dirty secret of the computer world, that hackers and developers are one and the same! They congregate approvingly at computer conventions, exchanging information. Not even that they need to, since they can do it quietly on the internet. The very same internet they probably programmed so their own traffic would be untraceable! They invent holes so they can be exploited so they can be paid more to plug the holes, while, at the same time, making new ones!