In today’s sea of technology, a lot of us have probably taken our gadgets for granted. The fact that we can connect to the net, pshh.. so easy. All we need is a strong signal and the wifi password.
Things like Secure Wifi, GPS and Bluetooth are all things that we assume is a given, am I right? But did you know who created them?
Well, perhaps create is a bit too loose of a term. But due to a certain lady’s innovation and ingenuity, the technology was indirectly created, and we get to enjoy the awesome connectivity technology of today.
Hedy Lamarr, born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler; (November 9, 1914 – January 19, 2000) was an Austrian-born American film actress and inventor. Yes! You read it right, she was actually an actress at first.
“The brains of people are more interesting than the looks I think,” Hollywood actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr said in 1990, 10 years before she passed.Source: Forbes
So as an actress, she did act in a number of films. Here is an excerpt from her Wikipedia page:
After a brief early film career in Czechoslovakia, including the controversial Ecstasy (1933), she fled from her husband, a wealthy Austrian ammunition manufacturer, and secretly moved to Paris. Traveling to London, she met Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studio head Louis B. Mayer, who offered her a movie contract in Hollywood. She became a film star with her performance in Algiers (1938). Her MGM films include Lady of the Tropics (1939), Boom Town (1940), H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941), and White Cargo (1942). Her greatest success was as Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah (1949). She also acted on television before the release of her final film, The Female Animal (1958). She was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.Source: Hedy Lamarr’s Wiki
Although this lady was well-known for her movies, but her greatest legacy was her technical mind.
The striking movie star may be most well-known for her roles in the 1940s Oscar-nominated films ‘Algiers’ and ‘Sampson and Delilah.’ But it is her technical mind that is her greatest legacy, according to a documentary on her life called ‘Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story.’ The film chronicles the patent that LaMarr filed for frequency-hopping technology in 1941 that became a precursor to the secure wi-fi, GPS and Bluetooth now used by billions of people around the world.Source: Forbes
Hedy Lamarr ran experiments in her trailer during her breaks during acting, using equipment provided to her by Howard Hughes. She was completely self-taught and had no formal training yet her love for tinkering and inventing led her to some discoveries.
Her most notable invention was the frequency-hopping technology. She came up with the idea when she had learned about radio-controlled torpedoes and in order to develop the radio guidance system, she called on her friend and composer, George Antheil, to develop it together.
Although the US Navy did not adopt the technology until the 1960s, various spread-spectrum techniques are incorporated into Bluetooth technology and are similar to methods used in legacy versions of Wi-Fi. This work led to their induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.Source: Hedy Lamarr’s Wiki
In short, her frequency-hopping technology led to the development of WiFi.
“Inventions are easy for me to do,’ the Austrian accented LaMarr says in ‘Bombshell.’ “I don’t have to work on ideas, they come naturally.”Source: Forbes
Unfortunately, Hedy Lamarr was not given the recognition nor compensation for her work. Although she, and George Antheil, owned the patent for the technology, they never received a cent from the multi-billion dollar industry that the idea paved the way for, although the U.S. military later acknowledged her patent and contribution to technology.
“The subject of history for so long had been men,” says ‘Bombshell’ director Alexandra Dean. “And it has been men telling the story of history, they’ve been the storytellers. So, of course, the heroes with all the complexity and the drama, are men, you know. The female subject is often somebody who is just there to highlight the qualities and complexity of the male subjects.”Source: Forbes
Regardless, Denise Loder, Hedy Lamarr’s daughter, is proud of her mother and her inventive mind. Hedy Lamarr is a female icon.
LaMarr’s daughter, Denise Loder, is proud of her mother’s inventive mind and the work that she did throughout her career to push the boundaries of how women are perceived. She notes that her mom and Betty Davis were two of the first women to own production companies and to tell stories from a female perspective.Source: Forbes
On January 19th, 2000, Hedy Lamarr passed away, at age 85, of heart disease in Casselberry Florida. Her ashes were spread in the Vienna Woods in Austria by her son Anthony Loder, as per her last wishes.
In 2014, Lamarr was given an honorary grave in the Central Cemetery in Vienna.
Although it happened later in her life, Hedy Lamarr was acknowledged and honored for her work.
In 1997, Lamarr and Antheil received the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award and the Bulbie Gnass Spirit of Achievement Bronze Award, given to individuals whose creative lifetime achievements in the arts, sciences, business, or invention fields have significantly contributed to society. Lamarr was featured on the Science Channel and the Discovery Channel. In 2014, Lamarr and Antheil were posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.Source: Hedy Lamarr’s Wiki