Guest Author - Amber Grey
Hedy Lamarr has been highly regarded as one of the, if not, most beautiful woman in the world for her perfect complexion, doe-shaped eyes and pursed lips. As an actress and icon, every man wanted her and every woman wanted to be her. Though mostly remembered for her beauty, Lamarr had brains too. Did you know that the radiant brunette discovered the concept of "frequency hopping"? A device used to track the Nazi torpedoes during World War II? Without Hedy Lamarr, where would our war technology be today?
In 1933, Lamarr was married to Fritz Mandl, a munitions manufacturer specializing in shells and grenades. During their marriage, Lamarr paid close attention to the secret discussions made about using radio-controlled torpedoes. But these type of torpedoes had only one problem: the transmission could easily be disrupted, hence the torpedo would be useless. In 1937, Lamarr escaped Mandl’s violent and jealous grasp and emigrated to America. There she became an icon at MGM Studios in Hollywood, California.
In 1940, a year before the Attack on Pearl Harbor, Lamarr had thought over the problem with her ex-husband’s invention. She decided to come up with a solution for anyone who wanted to use radio-controlled torpedoes without allowing it to "jam" by enemy signals. In the summer, Lamarr met and worked with George Antheil, who was an American music composer and became her co-inventor. Together they helped assemble a spectrum of 88 frequencies which corresponded with the keys on a piano. These transmissions successfully protected the radio-controlled torpedoes from being disrupted!
Two years later, Lamarr and Antheil received their patent for their “Secret Communications System.” They made final agreements with the United States Government to use their technology at their disposal in order to use it in warfare defense. But their patent was not utilized until the Cuban Missile Crisis, and even then, their work was not fully appreciated. It was not until 1997 that Miss. Lamarr received the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) award for her invention. With her iconic brash and spunk personality, Miss Lamarr accepted the award with "It's about time!" In the same year, Lamarr became the first female recipient of the BULBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award, which is a prestigious lifetime achievement award for inventors.
Her efforts in the scientific field have still not been tossed to the wind. Her invention of “frequency hopping” has been used in the innovations of cellular phones, fax machines and other wireless technology we use today. On November 9, 2005, which would have been Lamarr's 92nd birthday, the first Inventor's Day in Germany was held in her honor.