Spying is often quoted as being the second oldest business in the world.
It has been around as long as civilisation itself. The need for reliable
intelligence was born when the rulers needed spies to monitor general population
in case a rebellion or a revolution is being planned. The Bible makes over 100 references to spies
and intelligence gathering.
DID YOU KNOW
The word eavesdropping derived from the Middle Ages when spies for the King or Queen
of the time would listen at the eaves of the houses of prominent people to see if they could
get news of any plot to overthrow the ruling party before it happened.
The second half of the 16th century saw the foundations of the official structures for
political & military intelligence in various countries set up.
The American Civil War Period saw the major development in the spying industry - the photography,
so both sides were allowed to take pictures of military installations. Telegraphy was quickly taken up
for fast communications and gave rise to the use of ciphers for sending and receiving secret messages.
The First World War made great use of long distance communications - morse code played a vital part in
spying, and cryptography emerged as an intelligence science for intercepting encoded information.
DID YOU KNOW?
British Admiralty cipher experts deciphered a top-secret German government telegram
offering Mexico an offensive alliance against the United States.
The two world wars were responsible for a huge growth in intelligence gathering services, for
example, in order to find out what the enemy plans were in order to know of a planned assault well in advance.
The information gathering played a very important war, and had great effects on the outcomes and the process
of war. For example, British cryptographers broke the ciphers of the German Enigma while the Americans broke
the Japanese Purple cipher.
On our web site, we will focus mainly on the spying and intelligence during the Cold War - the period of
confrontation between East & West that ran from 1945 until the fall of communism in the early 1990's.
The Cold War saw the most developments of electronic surveillance devices hidden in seemingly normal everyday
objects. The arms race and the allocation of resources between the countries, especially the two superpowers
(the USSR and the USA), were the two vital pieces of information essential to finding out who was ahead.
In peace time, there are still many countries that switched their energies to industrial espionage in an attempt
to gain vital technologies for their country.
Designed by Alec Andronikov and Baron Geluz