Hedy Lamarr: How A Golden Age Movie Star’s Amateur Invention Paved The Way For Cellular Calling, Wi-Fi

Posted by Justin on December 8th, 2011

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A new biography about the remarkable life of film star and inventor Hedy Lamarr tells the story behind her idea that revolutionized the way we communicate today.

Lamarr became focused on defense innovation when a German U-Boat sank a ship of German refugees. Married to a munitions supplier to the Nazis before coming to America, she was well aware of the challenges associated with guiding torpedos to hit enemy targets using radio.

And so, the idea for how to create a more accurate signal that could not be interfered with was hatched.

Her insight was that you could protect wireless communication from jamming by varying the frequency at which radio signals were transmitted: if the channel was switched unpredictably, the enemy wouldn’t know which bands to block.

She later went on to develop the technology with fellow amateur inventor George Antheil. Although it was never utilized by the United States military for its intended purpose, the idea itself has become the bedrock for so many of our most cherished devices. Chiefly, Wi-Fi and cellular calling.

Hedy Lamarr = Awesome.

[New Scientist]

  • Anonymous

    That’s Hedley….