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"There was a time when one old eccentric guy with a notebook could do something important to science. Now even the resources of a major university are often not enough."
- Jerry Pournelle

Personal Capsule  
  An impenetrable device containing information for your eyes only.  

"…so they sent me out after you with this."

The tiny, gleaming sphere changed hands, and Gorm added, "It's confidential. Super-secret. Can't be trusted to the sub-ether and all that. Or So I gather. At least its a Personal Capsule, and won't open for anyone but you."

Ponyets regarded the capsule…

It opened in his hand and the thin, transparent tape unrolled stiffly. His eyes swept the message quickly, for when the last of the tape had emerged, the first was already brown and crinkled. In a minute and a half it had turned black and, molecule by molecule, fallen apart.

Ponyets grunted hollowly, "Oh, Galaxy!"

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

Compare to the Argento-Platinoid Dispatch Box from Schachner and Zagat's 1931 story Venus Mines, Incorporated, the single sheet molecule from Dorsal! (1960) by Gordon R. Dickson, truffle skins from The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965) by Philip K. Dick and the message cylinder and distrans from Dune (1965) by Frank Herbert.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Foundation
  More Ideas and Technology by Isaac Asimov
  Tech news articles related to Foundation
  Tech news articles related to works by Isaac Asimov

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