Collections Corner: A sneak peak from The Wireless Age: Electronics Entrepreneurs Before Silicon Valley exhibit

Spies have been in the news a lot lately, from NSA surveillance to corporate espionage. Whatever your thoughts on spying, there’s no denying the ingenuity and creativity that goes in to spy equipment. In this month’s Collections Corner, we take a look at an early surveillance device from the Leo Jones Collection — part of the Perham Collection of Early Electronics — currently on display in our newest exhibit The Wireless Age: Electronics Entrepreneurs Before Silicon Valley.

surveillance purseLeo Hugh Jones was an early pioneer in the development of electronic surveillance devices. In 1950, he founded the Fargo Company in San Francisco that designed and built these high-tech devices like this handbag with hidden surveillance equipment.

surveillance purseWired for audio surveillance, this ordinary looking handbag featured a microphone hidden on the side and a 3mm audio jack that could connect to a recorder or transmitter. In addition the bag included a wire that extended into the the strap, allowing it to act as a radio antenna!

Jones not only developed equipment for monitoring others, he also developed countermeasure equipment designed to prevent covert surveillance. In 1975, in a news piece from KTVU on corporate espionage, Jones’ counter surveillance devices were highlighted. Check out the video below of that original broadcast!

Come see pieces from the Leo Jones Collection and many more from the Perham Collection of Early Electronics at The Wireless Age: Electronics Entrepreneurs Before Silicon Valley exhibit. Open Tues – Sun, 11:00am – 4:30pm in the Arbuckle Gallery at the Pacific Hotel, History Park.

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