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Hedy Lamarr: Inventor of Cellphones, Wi-Fi and GPS

Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) writes | more than 2 years ago

Cellphones 0

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Hedy Lamarr, a siren of the silver screen and legend of Hollywood's Golden Age, had a penchant for invention and in 1942, came to be co-holder of a patent on spread spectrum radio, a technology that underlies mobile and cordless telephones, WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS. "Here was someone of intellect in Hollywood who didn't like to go to parties," says Richard Rhodes author of "Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World". "[Hedy] didn't drink and she didn't like loud parties and drunken parties — and she had to find some way to spend her time. It was her hobby." Lamarr had an inventor's corner set up in the drawing room of her Hollywood home complete with a drafting table and tools, and in the course of her life tinkered with a range of inventions including a fluorescent dog collar, a skin-tautening technique, modifications to the Concorde airliner and a bouillon-like cube that would create a carbonated beverage when mixed with water. But Lamarr's most important invention was a torpedo guidance system (PDF) for the U.S. Navy she co-developed with composer George Antheil that used a method of coordinated switching (or "hopping") between radio frequencies to prevent communications from being detected and jammed, a technology that underlies today's mobile communications. “Any girl can be glamorous,” Lamarr was famous for saying. “All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.” But it’s not every girl who can be glamorous, stand still, and take the future in a new direction."

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