The CIA's Cold War gadgets… inspired by Bond
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) found inspiration for its gadgets in U.K. author Ian Fleming's world-famous "James Bond" series, according to new research by a U.K. university.
Gadgets such as the poison-tipped dagger shoe in "From Russia With Love" and the tracking device featured in "Goldfinger" were developed by the CIA in the 1950s, the University of Warwick revealed this week.
According to declassified documents and interviews cited in the study, the devices were made soon after Allen Dulles, director of the CIA between 1953 and 1961, became friends with Fleming, a spy fiction writer who worked for British intelligence during the Second World War.
"Dulles himself claimed in the 1960s that he had met Fleming at a dinner party at the London offices of MI6 [London's international intelligence service] and was, effectively, spellbound by this meeting," Dr Christopher Moran, assistant professor of U.S. national security at the University of Warwick, told CNBC.
"It was soon after this that he instructed his technicians and staff to try to replicate the gadgets."
The study, entitled "Ian Fleming and the Public Profile of the CIA ," was published in the Journal of Cold War Studies this week, and shed light on the world's growing intelligence networks of the 1950s and 1960s.
"We know for sure that two devices were inspired by Fleming's 'Bondian' technology. We know the spring-tipped, poison-tipped dagger shoe… was created by Dulles' team, though we don't know whether it was ever tested out," Moran said.
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"The other bit of tech was the tracking device that Bond uses when he's trying to track Goldfinger's car. Dulles said the device worked well in open spaces but that it stopped working when it entered cities with lots of buildings - a bit like a modern Sat Nav."
Intelligence services were willing to try anything as Cold War fever spread, Moran said – and the Soviet secret service even publicly mocked the CIA for finding technical inspiration from a fictional spy.
"This was an age of exploding cigars and failed assassination attempts against Fidel Castro. You couldn't say that all the tactics used in the Cold War were directly influenced by Fleming – but he certainly contributed to a fantastical age of technological development in the intelligence service."
Moran stressed that the CIA was still a fledgling agency during the 1950s, and that Dulles – who was sacked in 1961 for his role in the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba - recognized the professional nature of the U.K.'s secret service.
"It's easy to forget that in the 1940s and 1950s, the British intelligence service was the teacher really. That all changed in the 1960s of course, when the CIA became the top dog and started distrusting the U.K. service's abilities more," he said.
- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt