3D X-Ray reveals hidden secrets of Cold War spy gadgets

The International Spy Museum in Washington DC has the largest collection of espionage artifacts placed on public display. Spanning from the Enigma cipher machine to popular culture items used in fictitious portrayals of espionage in movies and television programs, the museum celebrates the ingenuity and imagination of spies from all over the world.

Today, using new cutting edge visualization technologies provided by Swedish visualisation company Interspectral, the museum can unravel the secrets of one of their most enthralling objects – a spy pen used during the Cold War.

Using 3D X-ray scans and the Interspectral visualization software it is now possible to peek inside and see the ingenious construction of a fountain camera pen. The pen was issued by the CIA in the late 1970s and concealed a Tropel lens, specifically designed for photographing secret documents. A similar device was used by notorious spy Aleksandr Ogorodnik, codename Trigon, a senior Soviet diplomat recruited by the CIA in the 1970. Using devices similar to this fountain pen he passed on hundreds of classified documents to the U.S before being caught by the KGB.

The Pen along with other gadgets have been scanned by US based BWC Visual Technology and NTS using an Industrial CT scanner – a very powerful 3D X-ray scanner.

Digital copy of a Spy Pen exhibited in Inside Explorer

The data from the scans have been processed by Interspectral using the Inside Explorer software. The Interspectral visualization platform is used by museums and cultural institutions all around the world to let researchers and visitors alike get new insights on a wide spectrum of cultural heritage objects. Needless to say, the spies of the Cold War would have loved it as well!

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