Women and Technology: Hedy Lamarr

 

Women in the world of tech is actually a fairly common thing. No matter whatever the stereotype is. Today the author wants to write about Hedy Lamarr: actress, mathematician, inventor and total badass. Also probably the reason you can connect to the internet right now.

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Hedy Lamarr was first married to Friedrich Mandl, an Austrian military arms merchant and munitions manufacturer who was the third-richest man in Austria. Her husband did his best to end her acting carrier and after her movie Ecstasy which became infamous for the scene where she appeared nude, he tried his best to stop anyone from seeing it by buying the rights to the movie.  Hedy Lamarr described the marriage as being a virtual prisoner in a castle and during a party where she wore all her jewellery, she fled to Paris dressed as a maid.

During this marriage she met many of the engineers and scientists who worked with her husband and developed an understanding of torpedoes.

Arriving in Paris in 1937 she met Louis B Mayer head of MGM and changed her name to Hedy Lamarr. She then acted in many movies but got sick of her roles for a while as they were mostly damsel in distress ones, focus more on beauty than talent.

“Any girl can be glamorous, all you have to do is stand still and look stupid.” – Hedy Lamarr

Her own son said her invention time was a way for her to get away from the fact everyone only cared for the face.

Hedy Lamarr made many inventions, one being an improved traffic signal and another being a pill that when dissolved in water made carbonated drinks.

Then during World War II came one of her most precious inventions of all time: A frequency hopping and Spread Spectrum Technology based system: which would become the basis of Bluetooth and WIFI.

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She knew how radio signals was an unreliable way to control wireless ammunitions due to jamming. During a chat with Composer George Antheil, they realised it would be harder to jam signals where the frequency was constantly changing. This lead to the Secret communications device developed to guide torpedoes, which would be harder to jam.

This was used by the knowledge of torpedoes she had learnt from her first husband and how piano rolls work.

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This invention was rejected by the army, they suggested she use her celebrity status to raise funds. This however became the basis of Bluetooth and Wifi. Which are some of the few most awesome things in the world. Even though she patented the technology, by the time it came to use it had already expired. She never got any money from it.

This invention lead to Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil getting the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award in 1997 and in 2014 added to the National Inventors hall of fame.

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So here’s to Hedy Lamarr, without you the author might have not been able to post this article!

 

Here’s the doodle Google made for Hedy Lamarr’s 101th birthday! Check it out! It’s awesome!

https://www.google.com/doodles/hedy-lamarrs-101st-birthday

Click on the doodle in the link to see the animation of the doodle.

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Also more about her in this video


Helloweb which supports women and the web, hates the idea that women aren’t supposed to mix with technology. The author is sick of memes and stereotypes that suggest otherwise, and even more sick and also disgusted by politicians and idiots who suggest girls don’t have any use with tech.

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