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Glenn Whidden
CIA Agent and Inventor

Glenn Howard Whidden (27 March 1928 - 24 November 2011) was an electronics engineer who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for 28 years. After he left the CIA he founded his own company Technical Services Agency (TSA). He was the inventor of the COMPUSCAN bug tracer and was also the founder and president of the Espionage Research Insitute (ERI).

Glenn, a self-taught electrical engineer, was only 18 years old when he joined the CIA in 1946, shortly after WWII, where he was trained by the government in clandestine operations. In the light of the Cold War, he built up experience in most types of espionage activity, such as mail intercepts, electronic eavesdropping (bugging), surreptitious entry (lock picking) and Technical Surveillance Counter Measures (TSCM).

In 1974 he retired from the CIA, after 28 years of active service during which time he operated in 72 countries worldwide.
Glenn Howard Whidden. Photograph Copyright JD LeaSure [2].

After leaving the CIA in 1974, he started his own company by the name of Technical Services Agency Inc. (TSA), where he developed and marketed electronic equipment for eavesdropping detection (bug finders). He became the US distributor for the Scanlock series of bug tracers that had been developed by his good friend Lee Tracey in the UK. But he went further. He extended the Scanlock Mark VB with the first fully automated bug scanner: the so-called COMPUSCAN.

Glenn Whidden was the holder of five US patents on the subject of bug tracing, and wrote several books on this topic, such as 'A Guidebook for the Beginning Sweeper' and 'The Attack on Axnan Headquarters'. He also held positions in several institutes and organisations.

In 1999 he co-starred in the fascinating Channel 4 documentary 'The Walls Have Ears' [3] along with his UK friends Lee Tracey (inventor of the Scanlock), Charles Bovill (inventor of the S-Phone and the Broom). On 24 November 2011, after a short illness, Glenn Howard Whidden passed away at the age of 83, leaving behind his wife Natalie, his three sons and many grandchildren.

The following products of Glenn Whidden are covered on this website:

Computer Controlled Frequency Scanner for the Scanlock Mark VB
Spectrum monitor for the Scanlock bug tracer

  • 1946-1974: Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • Technical Services Agency (TSA)
  • Instructor at the Institute for Countermeasures Studies
  • Part-time instructor at the World Institute of Security Enhancement
  • President of the Espionage Research Institute (ERI)
  • President of BECCA
  • A Guidebook for the Beginning Sweeper
  • The Russian Eavesdropping Threat (1993, 1994)
  • The Attack on Axnan Headquarters: An Espionage Operation. 20 August 2000.
  • Who's listening in? (a story about telephone security). 28 July 2005.
  1. In Memory, Glenn Howard Whidden 1928-2011
    Obituary 24 November 2011. Retrieved October 2013.

  2. J.D. LeaSure, The passing of an Icon, Glenn Howard Whidden...
    ComSec website. 27 November 2011. Retrieved January 2014.

  3. Channel 4, The Walls Have Ears
    Fascinating Channel 4 documentary about The Spying Game - The Walls have Ears.
    1999. Via YouTube. Interviews with Glenn Whidden, Lee Tracey, Charles Bovill and others.
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