We all know the inventors of Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and other social media these days. All these men wouldn’t be successful if there was no wifi. Let us know more about this unsung woman in technology.
Hedy Lamar, Austrian- American actress, and Inventor, 1938. | Credits: Diltz.
This World War II era Hollywood actress who invented the wifi was born with the name Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna and grew up in a catholic household with Jewish heritage. She was the daughter of a rich banker and was married to an ammunition manufacturer at an early age.
He used to take Lamarr to the scientific meetings of the military from where Lamarr’s interest in invention sparked. Later when her wedding was turning sour and there was distress growing both in Europe of the war and in her household, she fled her household taking her first role offered by MGM studios in the United States.
She was first noticed by Louis B. Mayor when she was traveling on a ship from London to New York. She debuted in the film Ecstasy in 1933 which is known for its scandalous first female orgasm scenes. Mayor suggested she keep her name as Hedy Lammar and leave her real identity and the tag from the past of “The Ecstacy Lady” behind.
She has done many other hit films that went even into Oscar nominations such as Sampson and Delilah, Algiers, Ziegfeld Girl, The Strange Woman, Tortilla Flat, etc.
She was often typecast as a femme fatale and provocative. But it was unknown to many that she was much more than just glamor and seduction.
She once stated, “Any girl can be glamorous; all you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”
Along with George Antheil, co-founder, and composer, Lamarr invented what was known as a Secret Communication System. They did this in her vanity on movie sets while shooting for films. As tension between Axis and Allies was growing, Lamarr heard about the US Navy facing difficulties with radio-controlled torpedoes.
Lamarr wanted to create a system that would make it difficult for Axis powers to decode radio messages. This was known as ‘Frequency Hopping”. While Lamarr was the brains behind the invention, with her background knowledge in ammunition, and Antheil was the artist that brought it to life.
Though this invention was rejected by the Navy at that time, it came into use in the late 1950s after her career in Hollywood came to an end. The development of the CDMA network technology used this technology, while the Navy officials used this in the 1960s.
Despite the world started using Lamarr-Antheil’s methods in the late 1950s, they were recognized in the late 1980s and early 2000s for their remarkable work.
Today we are using wireless fidelity (wifi), Bluetooth, and GPS, this all came to life because of this unrecognized duo Hedy Lamarr, and George Antheil.
In the dark times of war, women were pulled down by patriarchy more than in today’s modern world. Despite all those difficulties and not being technically skilled, her determination for service and creativity made her outstand something that the world never saw behind a beautiful face and glamorous life.