Hedy Lamarr’s Secret Invention

37 MinutesLike your wi-fi? Thank Hedy Lamarr

Many of the Hollywood actors and actresses of “The Golden Age” made phenomenal movies back in the day. Many of the actors and actresses had rather glamorous, yet uninspired lives. Acting may seem an exciting profession, but the truth actors play professional “make believe” for a living.

Imagine our surprise in reading an article about a year ago. The article listed Hedy Lamarr. Hedy Lamarr was the proud owner of US Patent number 2,292,387 (view the patent here)

The interesting thing about this particular patent it was designed to provide a secure, encrypted signal to direct radio controller torpedoes. It was an idea that Hedy’s ex-husband, Friedrich Mandl, a Viennese arms manufacturer who was well received by the Nazis (even though he was half-Jewish). At one of the lavish parties, which hosted both Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, Hedy disguised herself as a maid, escaped to Paris and filed for divorce.

So, the patent was registered in 1942, just in time for the US to ignore it until the Cuban Missile Crisis. The patent morphed into something called frequency-hopping spread-spectrum invention. This became this basis for wi-fi technology and some cell phone technology.

So next time you get on wi-fi, thank Hedy Lamarr!

By the way, Boeing Corporation featured Hedy Lamarr and her accomplishments in a recruitment campaign a few years ago. The article is here

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