Before Marilyn Monroe, there was Hedy Lamarr in the Hollywood scene. Hedy was known for her beauty and roles on the silver screen. She emigrated to the U.S. shortly before World War II and worked under the Hollywood films studio MGM.
But, Hedy was more than just a beautiful woman… she was an inventor!
Some of her inventive achievements included redesigning Howard Hughes’s planes because they were too slow to be bought by the military! Her greatest idea, however, which would show that she was always ahead of her time….was in the world of communication!
During World War II, America was still using much of the same technology from the end of World War I. For example: when launching a torpedo, you had to determine a location to send it to, before it left the vessel, and once it was launched, there was no way to change the direction or communicate with it. Germany, on the other hand, had improved their technology and was able to pick up our frequency, making it easy to dodge most incoming fire. ‘Frequency hopping’ was the concept Hedy came up with to secure communication between our military machinery.
Frequency hopping worked by having both pieces of machinery regularly change frequencies in sync with each other while they communicated.
If that isn’t enough!… Hedy also created, with the help of an eccentric musician, George Antheil, a patented “Secret Communication System” and presented it to the US Navy. Unfortunately, they did not take Hedy or her idea seriously because of her beauty and acting career.
It took 10 years for a company to seriously look at her patent and an additional 10 years for it to be actively used. Hedy’s technology is the foundation for all our Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and military’s communications systems. To learn Hedy’s whole story look for Bombshell on Netflix or PBS.