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"The science fiction method is dissection and reconstruction. You look at the world around you, and take it apart into its components. Then you take some of those components, throw them away, and plug in different ones, start it up and see what happens."
- Frederik Pohl

Message Cylinder  
  A small metal object containing some form of message media and a mechanism for either playing or extruding the medium; secured communication device.  

There are several mentions of message cylinders in the Dune novels. The idea is that these metal cylinders are locked; the message tape itself typically corrodes quickly and becomes unreadable when exposed to air.

"So," Paul said, "we come to this." He lifted the message cylinder, removed its scrap of tape. "This was taken from a Harkonnen courier. Its authenticity is beyond question. It is addressed to Rabban. It tells him that his request for new troops is denied, that his spice harvest is far below quota, that he must wring more spice from Arrakis with the people he has."
From Dune, by Frank Herbert.
Published by Putnam in 1965
Additional resources -

This does not seem to be one of the more highly developed technologies - many times, they are described has having been captured and read by the enemy.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Dune
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