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.

Actress Hedy Lamarr Invented Wireless Technology
Famous Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr's invention is the basis of many cordless phones, WiFi, Bluetooth and other wireless technologies.
Jason Knott · December 6, 2011

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.

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!)

  About the Author

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. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at [email protected]

Follow Jason on social media:

Jason also participates in these groups:
LinkedIn · Google+

View Jason Knott's complete profile.

  Article Topics

Security · News · Wireless AV · All Topics
CE Pro Magazine

Not a Magazine Subscriber?
Subscribe Today...It's FREE!!