Bond, James Bond: The Tech of Sean Connery's 007

Nine actors have played James Bond. But none have encapsulated the role as much as Sean Connery, who was the first to portray him in a feature film. Here are the tech and gadgets that helped to make him a legend.
By Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer
1 of 21 Jason Perlow/ZDNET

Walther PPK, Dr. No (1962)

Dr. No was Sean Connery's first, and probably one of his most memorable appearances as James Bond. As a "Gadget" movie, Dr. No is a bit light on spy tech, unless you count CIA agent Felix Leiter's (Jack Lord) shellacked hair, which seems to defy gravity and is likely bulletproof. But it's notable for the moment in which Bond is forced by MI6 to switch from his Beretta to the handgun that he was famous for, which is the Walther PPK, a German-made 7.65mm pistol issued to him by armorer Major Boothroyd. 

2 of 21 Jason Perlow/ZDNET

Dragon Tank, Dr. No (1962)

This flame-throwing vehicle was used by Dr. Julius No's henchmen to scare trespassers off his Jamaican island hideaway, Crab Key. Encountered at night, locals believed it was a real monster, but Bond knew better after observing it from a distance. "A dragon, with diesel engines."

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Nuclear Control Room, Dr. No (1962)

The nuclear reactor facility in the Crab Key island hideout of Dr. Julius No is probably one of the most iconic villain lairs in movies' history, let alone James Bond films. Its implementation is completely and implausibly ridiculous; the reactor itself and control rods are totally exposed to the air, with no containment; not even the Soviet Union had such dangerous reactors. If you took the atomic fuel out, I bet it would make an awesome jacuzzi, though.

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Trick Briefcase, From Russia with Love (1963)

The second Bond film was where Connery began to show off the character's spy gadgets. The trick Swaine and Adeney briefcase featured hidden compartments that ejected a flat Wilkinson's throwing knife, as well as a strip of gold coins as emergency currency. It also held 50 rounds of .25 caliber ammunition, as well as an exploding gas talcum powder bottle, and a shaving cream bottle containing a silencer for Bond's pistol. The briefcase handle had a special compartment with a cyanide death pill, in case it was needed.

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Garotting Wristwatch, From Russia With Love (1963)

Wristwatches were also a signature of James Bond films. This killer wristwatch, which featured a choking wire pulled out from a retracted coil from inside the timepiece, was used by Red Grant, the SPECTRE assassin played by actor Robert Shaw. 

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Tape Recorder Camera, From Russia with Love (1963)

In his meeting with Russian intelligence officer Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) to discuss the stolen Soviet Lektor decoding device, Bond brought a tape recorder disguised as a camera. How quaint, right? 50 plus years later, everyone walks around with a video camera in their pocket. And an encrypted decoding device!

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Poison Dagger Shoes, From Russia With Love (1963)

SPECTRE agent and former high-ranking SMERSH Colonel Rosa Klebb wears shoes with retractable, spring-loaded, poisoned spikes that are made for stabbing, and that's just what they'll do. One of these days, these shoes are gonna stab all over you.

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Seagull Snorkel Costume, Goldfinger (1964)

It's not a very technical gadget but is notable for the memorability of the opening scene Connery is in, and it's very, very Bond. This was simply a fake seagull on top of a specially designed snorkel to conceal it. Bond uses it to enter a narcotics complex undetected -- once he arrives, he discards it into the water. He then steps out of the water removing his wetsuit, and reveals a perfectly dry white tuxedo complete with a red carnation.

9 of 21 Jason Perlow/ZDNET

Aston Martin DB5, Goldfinger (1964)

James Bond has had many cars over the years, but no vehicle is more iconic to the franchise than the Aston Martin DB5, which Sean Connery drove in Goldfinger. This car was outfitted with many technical defensive gadgets, including twin .50 caliber machine guns, retractable tire slashers, rotating license plates, smokescreen, oil slick, rear retractable bulletproof shield, front and rear battering rams, a tracking device with a display screen, radiotelephone, and last but not least, a passenger-side ejector seat.

10 of 21 Jason Perlow/ZDNET

Steel-Rimmed Bowler Hat, Goldfinger (1964)

Wielded by Auric Goldfinger's well-dressed and imposing Korean henchman, Oddjob, this traditional British bowler hat's brim is lined with razor-sharp stainless steel. When thrown, Oddjob uses it to decapitate his victims.

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Industrial Laser, Goldfinger (1964)

Bond: "Do you expect me to talk?"

Goldfinger: "No, Mister Bond, I expect you to DIE!"

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Geiger Counter Breitling Watch, Thunderball (1965)

This Breitling watch is the first of many watches we see being made by Q Branch for Bond in the movie franchise. It contains a built-in Geiger counter so that Bond can detect the stolen nuclear warheads aboard Emilio Largo's vessel, the Disco Volante.

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Bell Rocket Belt, Thunderball (1965)

This hydrogen peroxide-fueled rocket belt, which Connery uses in Thunderball to escape two SPECTRE henchmen, was actually a working device developed by Bell Aerospace for the US Army in the late 1950s. It only had a maximum flying time of about 22 seconds and could only carry its occupant for about 250 meters. Although Sean Connery is seen in the takeoff and landings, the main flight was piloted by Gordon Yeager and Bill Suitor.

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Skyhook, Thunderball (1965)

The "Skyhook," which the CIA used to rescue James Bond and Domino in Thunderball, was actually a real device, the Fulton surface-to-air recovery system (STARS) used for extraction of human assets in the field by the real Central Intelligence Agency.

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“Little Nellie” Gyrocopter, You Only Live Twice (1967)

Perhaps one of the most memorable vehicles in James Bond lore is the "Little Nellie," featured in You Only Live Twice. This was a modified Wallis WA-116 Agile, a British autogyro developed in the early 1960s by former Royal Air Force Wing Commander Ken Wallis. In the film, it was shipped by Q in four suitcases and assembled before use. The aircraft was equipped with machine guns, flamethrowers, aerial mines, rockets, and heat-seeking missiles.

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Cigarette Rocket Darts, You Only Live Twice (1967)

In You Only Live Twice, Bond tours Tiger Tanaka's ninja training grounds, which mix martial arts with modern weaponry.

Tanaka: "This is our special baby rocket. It's very useful for people who smoke too many cigarettes, like you." (fires rocket). "Accurate up to 30 yards."

Bond: "Very neat."

Tanaka: "It can save your life, this cigarette."

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Moon Buggy, Diamonds are Forever (1971)

Following a brief absence where George Lazenby played James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Connery returned to the role in Diamonds are Forever. This "Moon Buggy" is stolen by Bond during his infiltration of Willard Whyte's Tectronics company, and uses it to escape the complex into the desert.

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Voice Changing Device, Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

SPECTRE leader and villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, played by Donald Pleasance, uses this device to mask his voice over the telephone in Diamonds are Forever.

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Rocket Pen, Never Say Never Again (1983)

After being absent from the role for more than a decade, Sean Connery returned as James Bond in Never Say Never Again. This movie was unique because it was not produced by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli's EON Productions, which had the rights to the James Bond Franchise -- it was produced by Kevin McClory, who held the rights to Thunderball. Thus, Never Say Never Again is a remake of 1965's Thunderball.

With Connery returning to the role, there were numerous sight gags and gadget jokes as an aging, toupee-wearing Bond. This was an explosive tipped rocket launcher disguised as a Mont Blanc fountain pen with a British Union Jack on the barrel.

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Missile-Launched Rocket Pack, Never Say Never Again (1983)

With Never Say Never Again, what is old, is new again. Not only was Sean Connery back as James Bond, but also, the rocket pack was back, too. This time, it's launched out of a submarine, inside a Polaris UGM-27 ballistic missile.

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Yamaha XJ 650 Turbo Motorcycle, Never Say Never Again (1983)

The 53-year old Connery doesn't get a car in this film, but he does get one very cool motorcycle, the Yamaha XJ 650, complete with knobby tires, rocket launchers, and a turbo boost mode.

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