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"the [science fiction] writer should be able to convince the reader (and himself) that the wonders he is describing really can come true...and that gets tricky when you take a good, hard look at the world around you."
- Frederik Pohl

Spy Beam  
  A surveillance device that projects energy into a room, revealing conversation taking place.  

He said "The commission will, of course, have a spy beam on our conversation. This is against the law, but they will use one nonetheless..."

"However," and Avakim seated himself deliberately, "the recorder I have on the table - which is a perfectly ordinary recorder to all appearances and performs its duties well - has the additional property of completely blanketing the spy beam. This is something they will not discover at once."

From Foundation, by Isaac Asimov.
Published by Doubleday in 1951
Additional resources -

Compare to the object-finder beam from L.F. Stone's 1931 story The Conquest of Gola and the spy-ray goggles from 'Doc Smith's 1934 novel Triplanetary.

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