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Actress & Inventor

Hedy Lamarr, is probably best known for her acting career between 1930 – 1958, however she was also the co-inventor of an early technique for ‘spread spectrum communications’, a technique that has become key to many forms of wireless communication used today.

Hedy gained a lot of her technical knowledge during her first marriage to the arms manufacturer, Fritz Mandl. Fritz prevented Hedy from pursuing her acting career during their marriage and insisted instead that she attend business meetings with him. Hedy already had a talent for mathematics but it was during these meetings that she also learned about military technology.

Hedy later worked with her neighbour, the composer George Antheil, on their frequency-hopping spread-spectrum invention, know as the ‘secret communication system’. In August 1942 they were granted a US patent for their invention.

The early version of the frequency-hopping spread-spectrum was intended for military use, to make it difficult for enemies to block signals from radio-controlled missiles.

The idea was eventually taken up by the US military and used during a blockage of Cuba in 1962, about three years after the patent had expired, meaning that Hedy and George Antheil never received any money for their invention. However, their work has been widely recognised for it’s importance in forming the basis of much of the wireless and communications technology in use today.

For more information about Hedy Lamarr visit the following websites…

http://hedy-lamarr.org/invention.php

http://www.hedylamarr.org/

http://www.hedylamarr.com/

Hedy Lamarr – 9th November 1913 to 19th January 2000

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