Four decades ago the Soviets and Americans were still locking horns in the space race, along with the nuclear arms race and the peace race. In the early seventies both superpowers launched their first space stations, in the form of Salyut and Skylab programmes.
One urban legend claims that NASA spent piles of cash developing a pen that could work properly in a zero-G environment. They eventually made one, allowing their astronauts to play tic tac toe on the Skylab. The Soviets had a simpler and cheaper approach – they simply issued their cosmonauts pencils.
Now the Kremlin is taking a similar low-tech approach to security. According to The Telegraph, Russia’s Federal Guard Service, or FSO, is looking to buy $10,000 worth of electric typewriters. It is also looking for ribbons for Triumph Adlew TWEN 180 typewriters.
The retro gear will be used to prevent the distribution of secret documents. Since every typewriter has its own distinct signature, any would be whistleblower could be easily identified and shipped off to some of the more inhospitable parts of Russia, or injected with an exotic radioactive substance.
A Russian defence ministry source told Izvestiya that directives to defence minister, supreme commander-in-chief and Russian demigod Vladimir Putin are still printed on paper.
The Cold War might not be back yet, but paranoia in both superpowers still seems to be going strong, fuelled by the internet rather than dozens of ballistic missile submarines and their precious cargo.