Hedy Lamarr co-invented spread spectrum

Hedy Lamarr in The Conspirators

Hedy Lamarr in The Conspirators

Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr, well known for Boom Town and My Favorite Spy, co-invented frequency hopping to help make radio controlled torpedoes more resilient:

At a party in Hollywood, Lamarr met George Antheil, an avant-garde composer who also wrote film scores. While playing the piano with the composer, the actress suddenly has an important idea for her torpedo control system. Antheil sets up the system on 88 frequencies, as this number corresponds to the number of keys on a piano. To construct it, he employs something similar to the player piano sheet music that he used in his Ballet Mécanique.

In December 1940, the frequency-switching device developed by Lamarr and Antheil was sent to the National Inventors’ Council. A patent was awarded on August 11, 1942. The two inventors leave it to the American military to figure out how to use the device. Lamarr’s and Antheil’s Secret Communication System disappears into the U.S. Army’s filing cabinets.

Art Fag City via BoingBoing

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