Happy International Women’s Day! A Tribute to Hedy Lamarr
To the women in wireless, and to all women around the world, Happy International Women’s Day!
Who was Hedy Lamarr?
Hedy (short for Hedwig) was an actress from Austria who also co-invented frequency hopping during World War II.
How did that come about?
In 1937 Hedy was compelled to help the U.S military after divorcing her husband who had plans to jam U.S aircraft and weapons. In 1939, working with composer George Antheil, Hedy figured out that by transmitting signals along rapidly changing (“hopping”) frequencies, U.S radio-guided torpedoes would be far more resilient to jamming.
Fun Fact! Did you know frequency hopping spread spectrum is based on a music concept? The frequencies are ‘carried’ in waves through space like melodies. Neat, right? I think so.
Anyways, with their frequency hopping technology ready to go, Hedy and George presented it to the U.S Navy. What did they say? In a nutshell, they said ‘no thank you, it is too hard to implement’.
Not giving up, Hedy and George went on to patent the technology anyways, receiving U.S Patent 2292387 in 1942.
Jump ahead 20 years to 1962 and the U.S Navy reconsidered their previous ‘no thank you’ and used Hedy and George’s technology during the Cuban missile crisis.
Jump ahead another 35 years to 1992 and Hedy got the recognition she deserved, receiving the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award and the Invention Convention Bulbie Gnass Spirit of Achievement Bronze award to recognizing her significant contributions to society.
In 2014, both Hedy Lamarr and Antheil were posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
From all of iBwave, thank you Hedy Lamarr, and all women in wireless, for your contribution to the wireless world!