Hedy Lamarr, Hollywood beauty and ….inventor of spread spectrum radio?
“Any girl can be glamorous,” Hedy Lamarr once said. “All she has to do is stand still and look stupid.” But, ’40’s superstar Hedy Lamarr was far from stupid. Bored with being typecast for her looks, she turned her talents to technology.
• It was World War II and German submarines were targeting passenger cruise lines. Torpedoes could take them out, but they were hard to control. Hedy realized that radio-controlled torpedoes were essential, but radio signals could easily be jammed.
• Together with her friend, composer George Antheil, Lamarr patented the idea of random signal hopping of radio frequencies, to prevent jamming of the signal. This early version of frequency hopping used a piano roll to change between 88 frequencies.
• The Navy classified their invention as top secret, then proceeded to ignore it. Perhaps it was a culture clash..the idea that musical technology could be part of sophisticated weaponry. It was not until the patent expired that the Navy used frequency hopping in secure military communications. Subsequent patents in frequency changing, refer to the Lamarr-Antheil patent as the basis of the field, and the concept lies behind the principal anti-jamming device used today, for example, in the U.S. government’s Milstar defense communication satellite system.
Thanks to Peying Fong for being “gobsmacked” enough about this story to pass it on! Beauty and brains, For The Win!