If you've ever wondered how spies managed to take photographs of secret documents during the Cold War and other high times of espionage, it's because they used sub miniature cameras. These cameras are so small they only weigh a few ounces and measure a few inches in size. They work the same as regular cameras, but are small enough to be easily concealed. The sub-miniature camera was invented in 1936 by Walter Zapp, an engineer from Riga, Latvia. Production of the cameras continued in Riga until 1944 and after World War II it re-started in Germany in 1948.
Sub miniature cameras were originally sold as luxury items, but because of their size and close focusing lenses they were soon used as espionage cameras by intelligence agents during World War II. Later versions of the cameras were used up until the 1980s.
The company Minox makes the most well known versions of these cameras. They use 8x11mm film in a small cartridge containing a strip of film 9.2mm wide, one-quarter the size of 35mm. The film can hold up to 50 frames. These cameras can be bought from about $130 to several hundred.