Speaking of fictional gadgets inspiring real-life technology, a British academic says that his research shows that James Bond and the character’s creator, Ian Fleming, influenced the C.I.A.’s technology initiatives in the 1950s and 60s. Christopher Moran, an assistant professor at Warwick University, analyzed declassified letters and interviews between Fleming—who had been an intelligence officer in the British navy—and former C.I.A. director Allen Dulles.
In his resulting study, Moran writes that “[t]here was a surprising two-way influence between the C.I.A. and the James Bond novels during the Cold War, stemming from the mutual admiration between Allen Dulles and Ian Fleming.” During a 1959 meeting in London, Dulles later revealed, Fleming advised him that “the CIA was not doing enough in the area of ‘special devices.’”
The result of Fleming’s tip, according to Moran’s study:
With boyish enthusiasm, Dulles flew back to Langley and urged CIA technicians to replicate as many of Bond’s devices as they could. Speaking to Life magazine in August 1964, Dulles reported that the CIA had successfully managed to reproduce Rosa Klebb’s infamous assassination tool, a spring-loaded poison knife shoe. Scientists had less luck replicating Q’s automobile technology. Dulles was particularly eager for the CIA to develop a homing-beacon, seen in Goldinger (1959), which could be fitted to a car to track its whereabouts: “I put my people in CIA to work on this as a serious project, but they came up with the answer that it had too many bugs in it. The device really didn’t work very well when the enemy got into a crowded city.”
Apparently Dulles was not the only powerful security figure whom Fleming advised. During a 1960 dinner party at John F. Kennedy’s Georgetown home, Moran says, the future president asked the James Bond creator for his political insight.
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