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Genially about Hedy Lamarr, the woman who invented the technology which is the basis for today's WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS systems.

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Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr was an actress and inventor who developed the technology that would become the basis for the WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS systems we use today.


Hedy Lamarr was an actress and inventor who developed the technology that would become the basis for the WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS systems we use today.

In 1940, with World War II raging in Europe, Lamarr met writer and composer George Antheil. Antheil was an inventive person just like Lamarr. After her marriage to the weapons dealer Fritz Mandl, Lamarr had some knowledge of weaponry, and so she and Antheil began working on ideas to help the war effort. Together, they developed a communication system that was meant to direct torpedoes to their targets. The system was based on “frequency hopping” between radio waves, where the transmitter and receptor would jump to different frequencies together, which prevented the radio waves from being intercepted and would allow the torpedo to reach the target. The pair was awarded a patent, but ultimately the system was not used.

Hedy Lamarr was born in Vienna, Austria in 1914 to a wealthy Jewish family. Her father would often teach Lamarr about the inner workings of various machines such as street cars or the printing press. As only 5 years old, Lamarr would take apart and reassemble her music box to figure out how the machine worked. However, after Lamarr was discovered at the age of 16 by a director, the focus switched from her intelligence to her beauty.

However, Lamarr’s intelligence and passion for innovation were stifled in Hollywood - until she met pilot Howard Hughes, who gave her a set of equipment to use in her trailer on set. Hughes also showed her how planes were built, and introduced her to the scientists who made them. Lamarr began inventing. She sketched a design for a newer and faster plane based on her research about the fastest birds and fish in nature and how their wings and fins worked. She developed a tablet that would dissolve in water to create a soda, and upgraded the stoplight. However, her most important invention was yet to come…

Lamarr had a few small film roles before gaining recognition for her role in the 1933 film Ecstasy. She married a fan, weapons dealer Fritz Mandl, in 1933, but the marriage was unhappy and short. Lamarr stated that she was treated like an object, and she realized she would be unable to have her own career while in the marriage, so she fled to London in 1937. In London, Lamarr met film producer and co-founder of the famous MGM Studios Louis B. Mayer. She quickly became popular in America.

Lamarr continued acting, but her patent expired and her skill as an inventor was unknown by the public until years later. In 1997, she and Antheil received the Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In 2014, Lamarr was posthumously (after she had passed away) inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Her important work with frequency hopping technology is considered to be the foundation for WiFi as well as other wireless communication such as GPS and Bluetooth.