The incredible World War II Stainless Steel spy camera

The incredible World War II Stainless Steel spy camera

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Walter Zapp created the first Minox subminiature camera in 1936. Zapp, a German from Riga, Latvia, who was born in the Baltic region, talked with friends about the potential of creating a camera that could be carried easily.

The finished stainless steel-bodied camera was ideal for covert spy missions. It was only 8 cm length, 130 g in weight, and allowed for good close-up photography and simple handling of the film cartridge. The little analogue camera suddenly caught the attention of three countries: America, Great Britain, and Germany. Specialists in Sheffield, England, contributed to the development of the stainless steel outer shell. Production started in late 1937, but commercial production didn't start until the spring of 1938, originally at a rate of roughly two cameras per day. The production tripled after a year.

A batch of 25 Minox cameras that the US Office of Strategic Services bought in 1942, long before the CIA was ever created. In one well-known instance, it was established that Soviet spy John A. Walker Jr. had copied US Navy documents and cryptographic keys with the Minox C. The Latvian cameras, which were made in Germany after World War II, were widely used in that country as well as behind the Iron Curtain far into the 1980s.

Spy cameras continue to be Minox's main source of notoriety despite its fame, or perhaps because of it, given the company's anonymity.

At DSM we outselves have many Innovative Stainless Steel Solutions... but unfortunately none that can fit easily into a jacket pocket!