February 5, 2005 When German company Protona announced its Minifon P51 portable dictation machine in 1951, it caught the world's imagination and was seen as a solution for myriad problems. The Minifon directly catalysed the invention of the "Black box" flight recorder, was used in countless commercial processes around the world and was a natural for the Cold War espionage activities of every intelligence agency in the world. When the upgraded P55 was realeased in 1955, it was available with a microphone designed to look like an expensive wristwatch, and was clearly designed for the clandestine recording of conversations and its use can be traced in many of the espionage trials of the late fifities and early sixties. This week Gizmag came across a complete, mint condition P55 with watch accessory - a fascinating example of just how far leading edge technology has progressed in the last half century.
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