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Spotlight: Wireless AV

Actress Hedy Lamarr Invented Wireless Technology

Hollywood movie star from the 1940s Hedy Lamarr invented spread spectrum wireless technology that is commonly installed by most integrators.


Hedy Lamarr

Famous Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr’s invention is the basis of many cordless phones, WiFi, Bluetooth and other wireless technologies.

In a strange twist that would be great to include in your next customer newsletter, Hedy Lamarr, the famous Hollywood leading lady from the 1940s, is the co-inventor of spread spectrum, frequency-hopping wireless technology that is the basis for most wireless alarm systems, cordless phones, WiFi, and Bluetooth.

The invention was recently revealed as part of an upcoming biography on Lamarr, who starred in such blockbuster movies as "Samson and Delilah" with Victor Mature. The book, "Hedy's Folly" by Richard Rhodes, is already set to be made into a movie on the starlet.

Lamarr, along with co-inventor George Antheil, developed spread spectrum prior to World War II, specifically with the U.S. Navy in mind as a torpedo-guidance system. The system allowed submarines hop frequencies to avoid detection and signal jamming.

Patent No. 2,292,387 is actually issued under Lamarr's married name at the time, Hedy Kiesler Markey.

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Lamarr's most famous role was as Delilah in 1949's "Samson and Delilah." She died in 2000 at 86.

Lamarr reportedly got her inventive skills from her father. Spread spectrum wireless was just one of her many inventions. Others include a "fluorescent dog collar, a skin-tautening technique, suggested modifications to the Concorde airliner and a bouillon-like cube that would create a carbonated beverage when mixed with water - a project for which Howard Hughes reportedly 'lent her a pair of chemists,'" according the article.

It's an amazing piece of trivia and that's why Hedy Lamarr deserves the title as the "First Lady of Wireless." (For "Blazing Saddles" fans like me, that's Hedy, not Hedley!)




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Article Topics

News · Home Automation and Control · Control Systems · Security · Wireless Av · All topics

About the Author

Jason Knott, Editor, CE Pro
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California.

3 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by hifiguru  on  12/06  at  02:04 PM

I had TOTALLY forgotten that. I remember once upon a time hearing a hint of this, but it got lost in the attic of my mind. This is fascinating, and I’m going to look up the book!  Tony Weber

Posted by Tuckertues  on  12/07  at  07:57 AM

You may be aware that there was a great play based on this in NYC called Frequency Hopping, which explored the relationship of Ms. Lamarr and her associate George Antheil. 

http://tuckerstuesday.typepad.com/tuckerstuesday/2008/06/its-not-hedy-its-hedley-hedley-lamarr.html

Now,if onIy could find the Ballet Mecanique as a ring tone?

Posted by Walt Zerbe  on  12/09  at  09:46 AM

I LOVE BLAZING SADDLES!

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