NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1946 __ Passive Resonant Cavity Bug
Lev Sergueïevich Termen (Лев Сергеевич Термен) (1896-1993)
Comment : In 1945 Theremin invented the first covert listening device (or "bug") for spying. Theremin's device was embedded in a carved wooden plaque of the Great Seal of the United States. On August 4, 1945, Soviet school children presented the bugged carving to U.S. Ambassador Averell Harriman, as a "gesture of friendship" to the USSR's World War II ally. The Great Seal bug, also known as The Thing, was hidden in a copy of the Great Seal of the United States, presented by the Soviet Union to the United States ambassador in Moscow in 1946 (not discovered until 1952 by a British radio operator who heard conversations on an open radio channel, and the Great Seal bug was discovered in 1952, but its existence was not made public until 1960). The bug was unusual in that it had no power source or transmitter, making it much harder to detect.it was a new type of device, called a Passive Resonant Cavity Bug (a Lev Termen (aka Leon Theremin) invention). The cavity had a metallic diaphragm that moved in unison with sound waves from a conversation in the room. When illuminated by a microwave beam from a remote location, the cavity would return a frequency modulated signal. Among Termen's myriad prescient brainstorms were the first electronic surveillance system, a gadget that opened doors at a hand signal and a 1920's version of television that broadcast 100 lines of resolution onto a five-foot-square screen - far superior to any competitor. For decades he worked in "mailboxes," top-secret Soviet research centers, on countless, still-undisclosed projects for the vast Soviet security apparatus. But in the West Termen became famous as Leon Theremin, who in 1919 created an instrument named after him, a radio-sized box that, with a carefully precise wave of the hands over its antennas, produced sounds that Depression-era listeners found uncanny, heavenly, astounding, unsettling or puerile. “I asked Theremin the same question many times: "Everything you have done is very interesting. But the fact is that the KGB could use the devices you created to monitor ordinary people such as me. Did you ever think about this?" His answer never failed to shock me: "I didn't care. My task was to reduce noise when operating the device."”. (Bulat M. Galeyev, “Light and Shadows of a Great Life: In Commemoration of the One-Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Leon Theremin, Pioneer of Electronic Art”)
Source : Galeyev, Bulat M. (1996), “Light and Shadows of a Great Life: In Commemoration of the One-Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Leon Theremin, Pioneer of Electronic Art”, "Special Section: Leon Theremin, Pioneer of Electronic Art". Leonardo Music Journal (LMJ) 6.
Source : Glinsky, Albert (2000), ”Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage”, Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press.
Urls : http://www.spybusters.com/Great_Seal_Bug.html (last visited ) http://leonardo.info/isast/journal/journal96/LMJ6/galeyevintro.html (last visited )

No comment for this page

Leave a comment