Audiotel International Ltd
Audiotel International is a leading European manufacturer of
equipment, used for the effective detection of electronic eavesdropping
devices, also known as bugs.
Audiotel TSCM equipment is generally sold
world-wide under the Scanlock brand name.
The company was established in 1978 and is commonly recognised as one of
the major players in this field.
The following Audiotel products are featured on this website:
The history of Audiotel goes back as far as 1962, when
Lee Tracey, a former RAF engineer and MI6 agent,
invented the Scanlock receiver.
Whilst working for MI6, Lee Tracey had developed a scanning receiver
that was based on a novel technique known as a staircase or
More about Lee Tracey
Technical Security Ltd.
By mapping several smaller sections of the
frequency spectrum on top of each other, the entire spectrum could be
scanned for nearby radio transmitters (bugs) in less than a second.
As MI6 had no interest in developing it further,
Tracey started marketing it himself in 1975 through Technical Security Ltd.
in London, at the time a front operation of MI6 .
In New Scientist of July 1975, it was announced that Technical Security
was about to lauch the Scanlock at a price of GBP 940 .
Audiotel International Ltd.
A few years later, in 1978, Tracey left MI6 and founded his own company:
Audiotel International Ltd., with its initial address at City Road
in London. His first product was the Scanlock Mark I, soon followed
by the Scanlock Mark 2 and the
Scanlock Mark 3,
Eventually this evolved into the now famous
Scanlock Mark VB.
It instantly settled Audiotel's name as international
experts in the field of countermeasures,
and the Scanlock would soon be copied by other manufacturers .
For many years, the company used the silhouette of an eavesdropping man,
shown at the top of this page, as the company logo.
In the US, Audiotel was represented by Technical Services Agency (TSA),
a company founded by Glenn Whidden,
a former CIA expert. With his
technical expertise, Glenn converted the Scanlock Mark VB into a
semi-automatic device by adding an external device to it, known as
As Lee Tracey was more of an engineer than
a business manager, he teamed up with Lansing Bagnall in Basingstoke
who took a major interest in the company by taking 70% of its shares.
Tracey would concentrate on the development of the Scanlock and a
new range of products, whilst Lansing Bagnall would look after
management of the company.
In the early 1980s, Audiotel started the development of the next generation
of bug detectors, resulting in the improved partly digital
Scanlock 2000. In Europe it was an
instant succes that soon replaced the Scanlock Mark VB.
In the US however, the Scanlock Mark VB (enhanced with TSA's
Compuscan expansion unit) kept dominating the marked for several more years.
After a conflict between Tracey and Lansing Bagnall, Tracey
gradually began loosing interest and fell out with the major shareholder.
Finally, Lansing Bagnall decided to sell off Audiotel altogether
and found a new owner in Andrew Martin, who would lead the
company until his death in 1997.
In 1987, Martin moved Audiotel to a new premises in Corby
(Northamptonshire, UK). There, the successor to the Scanlock 2000
was developed, resulting in the digital-controlled versatile
In the meantime, Audiotel had added a number of additional devices
to their product range, such as the hand-held
Delta-V and a range of
covert communication devices.
In 1989, Audiotel got access to the latest developments in
Non-Linear Junction Detectors (NLJD) by acquiring Security Research Ltd.
from Cray Defence Group. Security Research Ltd. was founded by
a WWII SOE veteran and long-term friend of Lee Tracey,
who had been quietly developing and improving his
since the 1970s.
Bovill developed the idea of the
during the war, whilst
working on other war-time inventions like Eureka, Rebecca and
. It was then used to detect corrocoded parts
In the early 1980s the Broom
appeared on the market and was actively being advertised in the
security magazines of the day.
More about Charles Bovill
The acquisition of Charles Bovill's
NLJD technology, resulted in the release of the
Broom ECM in 1990,
soon followed by updates of existing products, such as the
Scanlock ECM Plus in 1992,
the Delta-V ECM in 1995,
the SuperBroom in 1996
and finally the PC-driven
Scanlock M2 in 2000.
After company director Andrew Martin's untimely death in 1997,
Audiotel was acquired from the trustees of the estate
by London & Boston Investments plc (L&B)
for GBP 1,800,000 on 31 January 2003.
A year later, in 2004, Audiotel became a full
subsidary of PSG Solutions, another L&B acquisition.
In 2004, Audiotel reported a turnover of nearly GBP 3 million .
Today, the company is still based in Corby (Northamptonshire, UK)
and supplies TSCM equipment to governments, law enforcement agencies,
companies and private individuals world-wide.
Early in 2013, Audiotel moved to a new premises, about 2 miles from
the old one, and replaced the old familiar logo with the eavesdropping
silhouette by the more colourful one shown above .
On the first Audiotel website that was published in 1999, it was stated
that the company was supplying products since 1977, the same year that
was mentioned in the 1996 sales brochure . A year later however,
the website claimed Audiotel was established in 1978 .
We assume the latter to be correct.
- Audiotel International Ltd.
Corby Road, Weldon
Corby, Northamptonshire NN17 3AR
Phone: +44 (0)1536-464888
Fax: +44 (0)1536-268363
- Initial Audiotel website: www.audiotel-int.com
October 1990 - 8 September 2012. Retrieved via WayBack Machine. May 2013.
- Second Audiotel website: www.audiotel-support.com
October 2007- August 2012. Retrieved via Wayback Machine. May 2013.
- Current Audiotel website: www.audiotel-international.com
Retrieved May 2013 1.
- London & Boston Investments plc, Acquisition of PSG Solutions
8 June 2004.
- Audiotel International Ltd., Full colour sales brochure
March 1996. 16 pages, full colour. © Copyright Audiotel.
- Audiotel International Ltd., Audiotel International has moved
Audiotel Newsletter, February 2013.
- Crypto Museum, Interview and correspondence with Lee Tracey
23 May 2013.
- New Scientist, Boardroom electronic warfare
Volume 67, Number 957. 10 July 1975, p. 66.
- New Scientist, Personal surveillance devices
Volume 80, Number 1130. 23 November 1978, p. 601.
- The Telegraph, Charles Bovill Obituary
9 May 2001. Retrieved May 2013.
Although this website has been active since October 2000, it used to
be redirected to audiotel-support . Since the beginning of 2013,
it is used as the main web address, whilst the others have been discontinued.
Any links shown in red are currently unavailable.
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© Copyright 2009-2013, Paul Reuvers & Marc Simons. Last changed: Friday, 13 September 2013 - 10:15 CET