Hedy Lamarr

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by Whitmore22
Last updated 5 years ago

Discipline:
Science
Subject:
Inventors and Inventions

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Hedy Lamarr

Not Just a Pretty Face: Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000)

What did she invent? Hedy Lamarr invented a secret communication system and a way to steer torpedoes by remote control. She worked with a friend who was an avant-garde composer named George Anthiel. The idea came to her after experiencing a musical piece he had created that synchronized player pianos. How is it used now? Her invention, the foundation of Spread Spectrum, is now used in WiFi. It forms the basis of all wireless communication and is used in cellular phones, faxes, computers, digital dispatches, etc. What did it do? Her system manipulated radio frequencies at irregular intervals between transmission and reception. It formed an unbreakable code to prevent classified messages from being intercepted. What else? Her invention was patented in 1941. The Navy did not think her designs would work and never used it. Hedy donated her patent to the U.S. government. It did finally get used 20 years later during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. There, it was installed on the ships that were sent to blockade Cuba. Hedy was never compensated, since her patent had expired 3 years prior to it being used.

Hope and curiosity about the future seemed better than guarantees. That's the way I was. The unknown was always so attractive to me... and still is.~ Hedy Lamarr


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