Biography Reveals Starlet Hedy Lamarr Helped Invent Wireless Technology

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By Justin L. Ayoub, Christian Post Reporter
November 28, 2011|4:20 pm

A new biography on the life of Hollywood starlet Hedy Lamarr revealed the actress helped invent technology leading to the Internet, Bluetooth, and GPS.

The biography is written by Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Rhodes and focuses on Lamarr's intellectual ability that was often put on the back burner due to her career in Hollywood.

Rhodes told National Public Radio in an interview that Lamarr was unsatisfied with the glamorous lifestyle.

“Hedy didn’t drink. She didn’t like to party… Her idea of a good evening was a quiet dinner party with some intelligent friends where they could discuss ideas - which sounds so UN-Hollywood, but Hedy had to find something else to do to occupy her time," said Rhodes.

Rhodes also said that Lamarr constructed a drafting table in her house and started inventing on the side. She came up with "spread-spectrum radio" with inventor Geroge Antheil when German submarines started attacking civilian ships. The technology allowed torpedoes to be controlled with a remote.

"She understood that the problem with radio signals was that they could be jammed. But if you could make the signal hop around more or less randomly from radio frequency to radio frequency, then the person at the other end trying to jam the signal won't know where it is...If they try to jam one particular frequency, it might hit that frequency on one of its hops, but it would only be there for a fraction of a second," Rhodes said.

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Lamarr and Antheil patented their product in 1942, but the United States Navy was not very interested in it until after World War II when the technology gained popularity. Today the technology is found in most wireless products.

Lamarr starred in films such as “Boom Town” in “Algiers.”

The performer died in 2000.

 

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