NEWS
LIFESTYLE
FUNNY
WHOLESOME
INSPIRING
ANIMALS
RELATIONSHIPS
PARENTING
WORK
SCIENCE AND NATURE
About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy
© GOOD Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.

How Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr contributed to developing the WiFi technology in 1940s

Hedy Lamarr's hidden talent as an inventor led to her groundbreaking contribution to WiFi technology.

How Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr contributed to developing the WiFi technology in 1940s
Cover Image Source: Actress Hedy Lamarr in a scene from the movie "Come Live With Me" which was released on on January 31, 1941. (Photo by Donaldson Collection/Getty Images)

Famous individuals often carry a different personality other than their public image. Behind the glitz and glam, they usually possess multifaceted talents and diverse interests. Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr was one such individual who had many talents, per HISTORY. Most people know her for her contributions to the world of cinema. However, it is a commonly unknown fact that Lamarr was a famous inventor.

Image Source: Austro-American actress Hedy Lamarr on the set of Samson and Delilah, directed by Cecil B. DeMille. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Image Source: Austro-American actress Hedy Lamarr on the set of Samson and Delilah, directed by Cecil B. DeMille. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

Richard Rhodes, a historian who wrote her biography, shared: "Hedy always felt that people didn't appreciate her for her intelligence—that her beauty got in the way." Lamarr made a crucial contribution to the world of communication devices, so much so that the technology she made proved helpful in developing the systems of WiFi and Bluetooth that we widely use today. The actress was quite serious about her hobby, having a drafting table and read many engineering books to perfect her craft.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Gustavo Fring
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Gustavo Fring

She was not professionally trained to be an engineer or mathematician, but that didn't stop her from coming up with solutions to problems people face throughout their day. Some of these included a tissue-box attachment to keep used tissues and a glow-in-the-dark dog collar. During World War II, Lamarr's most significant invention emerged: the concept of "frequency hopping." This invention has been credited for being the foundation for the development of secure communications technology in the modern world.

Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000), Austrian actress, wearing a red gingham dress and holding a branch with pink flowers while leaning, front down, on a diving board over the water of a swimming pool against velour-covered surface, 1945. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Image Source: Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000), Austrian actress, wearing a red gingham dress and holding a branch with pink flowers while leaning, front down, on a diving board over the water of a swimming pool against the velour-covered surface, 1945. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Although she did find immense success in Hollywood, she always had an interest in invention and engineering. Rhodes spoke about how she was an inventor in a very traditional sense. People who have been around real inventors will know how most of them only had a basic education. Their desire to invent came from wanting to find solutions for when something doesn't work right. Such a problem came to Lamarr's attention when the Nazis began conquering more territories with the help of their powerful U-boat submarines.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Erik Mclean
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Erik Mclean

Lamarr was aware that the British could not tackle the German U-boats because there was an issue with aiming the torpedoes that were used to attack them. She began to think about how the British could have a tactical advantage if torpedoes were launched from surface ships or planes. So, there needed to be a torpedo that could be controlled remotely by radio. However, this also posed a problem as the Germans could jam the signal.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas

An extraordinary idea took shape when Lamarr collaborated with George Antheil, an avant-garde music composer equally eager to contribute to the war effort. He lost his brother when the war began, so both of them began to work together on the project. The concept they came up with was very simple. Two musicians on different pianos could pick up on the song the other was playing and continue playing it if they knew what the song was. Similarly, if the concept was carried over to torpedos, the Germans could be overwhelmed if they were subject to changing frequencies that they did not know about.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio

Even though their invention was revolutionary, the American Navy rejected it and both of them went back to their routine lives. However, the technology eventually came to be used by American warships to jam Soviet signals during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After that, frequency hopping became even more popular in the 1970s when phones began to utilize it to allow many callers to communicate over a certain number of radio frequencies. Lamarr finally got recognition for her invention and got an award in 1990.

More Stories on Scoop