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Hedy Lamarr

Who was she?

Hedy Lamarr was an Austrian actress who became an Hollywood film star from the 1930s to 1950s.

What did she do?

Often cast at the sexy starlet with very few lines, Lamarr became bored with her acting roles, so she turned to invention to keep her mind occupied. She began with an improvement to traffic stoplights and a tablet that would dissolve in water to make carbonated drinks, but soon turned her mind toward World War II. She and her partner George Anthiel realized that the radio controlled torpedoes could be easily jammed and sent off course, so they set themselves to the task of creating a jam-proof system that was based on the way player pianos work. This system would allow a torpedo’s radio signal to hop frequencies continually, making it impossible to block. Although it was patented in 1942, the US Navy didn’t implement this technology until 1960 during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Why is that important?

This technology became the basis for Wi-Fi, bluetooth and CDMA (code division multiple access) technology which powers our mobile phones, computers and gadgets, today.