Beauty AND brains.
If you are reading this post on your mobile devices, chances are – if you are not using mobile data – that you are relying on Wi-Fi to stay connected. These days, we take wireless connectivity almost for granted. For this, we have to thank a World War II-era Hollywood actress who acted on her curiosity and came up with inventions that would pave the way for how we communicate in modern times.
Hedy Lamarr comes up next in our “Women with Drive” series.
Hedy Lamarr: The Beautiful Mind
What she gave us: Wifi … and Bluetooth and GPS
Considered one of the most beautiful Hollywood movie stars in the 1940s, Hedy Lamarr (pictured) showed that she had the brains to match. During breaks between her acting schedules, she would tinker with various experiments in her trailer.
Although she was self-taught, she showed her inventiveness early on, including coming up with an improved traffic stoplight.
As World War II escalated, Lamarr co-invented a “spread spectrum” technology with her good friend George Antheil. It enabled a radio frequency-hopping signal that is resistant to jamming. This prevented classified messages from being intercepted and decoded by enemy forces, and was used to prevent Allied torpedoes from being detected.
The technology was patented in 1941 and opened the door for later developments in secure Wi-Fi, and other wireless communication such as Bluetooth and GPS.
Even in her old age, Lamarr was still working on various inventions, including a new kind of stoplight. She seemed to be fascinated by that!
Hedy Lamarr passed away in January 2000 at the age of 85. For her contribution to frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology, she was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.
Want to read more about amazing women such as Hedy Lamarr? Here’s someone else who contributed to giving us GPS: Dr Gladys West.
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- National Women’s History Museum
- 5 Automotive Inventions by Women That Changed the History of Driving
Main photo: Credit