POWERING CHANGE: WOMEN IN INNOVATION & CREATIVITY

hedy lamarr (b. 1914), spread spectrum tech, 1941

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Most famous as an actor, Hedy Lamarr was the star of more than 30 movies in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Less well known is the fact she was also an Austrian-born American inventor, credited as having helped invent spread spectrum technology.

During World War II Hedy worked with co-inventor George Anthiel to develop a “Secret Communications System”. The invention manipulated radio frequencies at irregular intervals between transmission and reception, forming an unbreakable code. Hedy and George received a patent in 1941 and their invention contributed significantly to the allied war effort.

Hedy was a glamorous Hollywood leading lady of the film industry, yet repeatedly undervalued intellectually. Despite this she still shattered stereotypes and earned a place among the 20th century's most important women inventors. She was a visionary whose technological acumen was far ahead of her time.

Hedy’s spread spectrum technology later formed the technical skeleton that makes cellular phones, fax machines and Wi-Fi services possible. With more than four billion people globally connected to cellular networks, most of the world’s population has much to thank Hedy for.

Our Head of Concepts and Requirements, Tony Brennand, explains why Hedy Lamarr is his inspirational woman innovator.

 


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