Awesome Women of Tech – Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr inventor wifi bluetooth women of techOnce called the “most beautiful woman in the world”, Hedy Lamarr was a star of the silver screen through the 1940s and 50s. She has over 30 acting credits to her name as well as two producer credits. She had a sharp tongue and is endlessly quotable.

“All creative people want to do the unexpected.” – Hedy Lamarr

She is also is one of the people responsible for WiFi. And bluetooth.

Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, Austria, in 1914, she dropped out of school as a teenager to become an actress and by the time she was 20 had shocked the world by appearing nude in a German film called Ecstasy (1933). The film was banned by the US government at the time but didn’t stop Hedy from moving to the States where she made her first American feature in 1938.

As if this wasn’t enough, along with co-inventor George Antheil, Lamarr developed Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum and patented it in 1942.

Hedy Lamarr inventor wifi bluetooth women of tech 2Frequency Hopping is:

“the repeated switching of frequencies during radio transmission, often to minimize the effectiveness of “electronic warfare” – that is, the unauthorized interception or jamming of telecommunications.” – TechTarget

This technology was initially developed during the Second World War for use by the American Navy to control torpedoes. It was turned down at the time and then re-visited in the 1950s and became commonly used for secure military communication systems.

Lamarr’s groundbreaking is now used in Bluetooth, WiFi and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access).

In 1997, over fifty years after the original patent, Lamarr was awarded the Pioneer Award by the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation). According to writer Richard Rhodes,

“When they called her up to tell her she would get the award, her first words were, Hedy Lamarr being Hedy Lamarr, ‘Well, it’s about time.’”

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