Celebrating a brilliant mind

All you need is love and wifi, right?

But if it wasn’t for the glorious mind of a 1940s actress, there might be no wifi as we know it today.

Famed for her beauty and her movies, actress Hedy Lamarr should be remembered for her brilliant mind and ideas that paved the way for technology today. And it’s for this reason Israeli Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot is in talks to develop a series on the life of this fascinating woman whose inventions led to Wi-Fi and GPS.

Born in Austria to Jewish parents, Lamarr fled Europe on the eve of World War Two and the Holocaust, and moved to the U.S, catching the eye of MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer on the ship from London to New York.

Quickly becoming a famous actress, she socialised with luminaries including John F. Kennedy and Howard Hughes, who provided her with equipment to run experiments in her trailer during her breaks from acting.

Born Hedwig Kiesler in 1914, Lamarr was a serious inventor. During the war years, she and composer George Antheil developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes, which used spread spectrum and frequency. Aspects of their work were incorporated into Bluetooth technology, Wi-Fi and GPS. In recognition of their contributions, the pair was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014, an article in Forbes revealed.

A documentary of her life, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, was made last year and documents 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.

The patent she filed with co-inventor Antheil aimed to protect their war-time invention for radio communications to ‘hop’ from one frequency to another, so that Allied torpedoes couldn’t be detected by the Nazis. But to this day, neither Lamarr nor her family have ever seen a cent from the multi-billion-dollar industry her idea generated, even though the U.S. military has publicly acknowledged her frequency-hopping patent and contribution to technology, as well as to the war effort of the allies during the Second World War, Forbes reported.

“The brains of people are more interesting than the looks I think,” Lamarr quipped in 1990, ten years before she died, and that’s something society should increasingly recognise and from which it could greatly benefit.

Click here to read more at Forbes and here for more at Gizmodo

 

 


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