...our citizens to be cyber smart, and develop pathways for the future cyber workforce.


    ...and convene partners to address emerging cyber and cryptologic issues.


    ...our cryptologic history & those who served within the cryptologic community.


Advance the nation’s interest in cyber and cryptology through leadership, education, and partnerships.

1984: GUNMAN Project found typewriter implants in U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

23 July 1984: NSA's GUNMAN Project found typewriter implants in U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

For a detailed accounting of this story, visit the link below to read the NSA CCH publication written by NSA historian Sharon A. Maneki, called “Learning from the Enemy: The GUNMAN Project.” This historical monograph details how the Soviets for eight years were able to steal American secrets from inside the U.S. embassy in Moscow and the U.S. consulate in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg).


...beginning in 1976, the KGB successfully installed sophisticated miniaturized electronic eavesdropping equipment and burst transmitters inside 16 IBM Selectric typewriters used by the staffs of the Moscow embassy and Leningrad consulate, which copied everything being typed on the machines, then periodically broadcast their take to KGB engineers manning listening posts just outside.

The KGB bugs were discovered eight years later in 1984 by a NSA operation codenamed Project GUNMAN, which was the brainchild of the NSA deputy director for communications security, Walter J. Deeley. Shortly after President Ronald Reagan approved the project in February 1984, NSA secretly sent a team of electronic eavesdropping and communications security specialists to Moscow to look for the Soviet bugs.

Over the span of just 100 days, the NSA team replaced every piece of communications and encryption equipment, teletype machines, computers, printers, copiers, and typewriters then being used at the U.S. embassy in Moscow and the consulate in Leningrad, and replaced them with new “clean” equipment covertly brought in from the U.S. The old equipment was shipped back to NSA headquarters at Fort George G. Maryland, where every item was visually inspected an x-rayed by NSA specialists.

The first bugged IBM Selectric typewriter was discovered during a routine x-ray inspection at Ft. Meade on July 23/24, 1984. By the time the operation was completed, NSA technicians had found bugs inside 16 IBM Selectric typewriters, all of which had been shipped to Moscow and Leningrad between October 1976 and January 1984.

In the end, NSA concluded that the Soviets eavesdropping operation had most likely compromised every document typed on these 16 electric typewriters over the span of eight years from 1976 to 1984.

Return To List


On This Day In History


About Us

The NCF's Vision is to strengthen trust in the digital ecosystem.

The NCF Mission: Advance the nation’s interest in cyber and cryptology as we:

Educate citizens to be cyber smart individuals, 

Develop pathways for the future cyber and cryptologic workforce, 

Engage and convene partners to address emerging cyber and cryptologic issues and, 

Commemorate our cryptologic history and those who served. 

The Foundation provides exceptional cryptologic programs, encourages young minds to learn about cryptology and to explore cyber-related career opportunities, hosts educational, cryptology-related exhibits at various community events, and honors the people— past and present—whose contributions to our national security protect and make possible our way of life.

The NCF also provides needed support to the National Cryptologic Museum (NCM), the first public museum in the U.S. Intelligence Community. Located adjacent to the National Security Agency (NSA) in Maryland, the NCM houses a unique and priceless collection of artifacts that represent our Nation's history in code making and code breaking, as well as a world class library of cryptologic media. The NCF has acquired rare and invaluable artifacts for the Museum and helps to support new educational and interactive exhibits.

The NCF is a 501(c)(3) organization.

Learn more about our MISSION, VISION, and VALUES.