WEIRDLAND: Hedy Lamarr & Inception of Wi-Fi, Web Hosting

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Hedy Lamarr & Inception of Wi-Fi, Web Hosting

It was Hedy's idea for a radio-controlled torpedo, guided by a signal that couldn't be intercepted - a technology she called "frequency hopping."

Hedy Lamarr and John Garfield in "Tortilla Flat" (1942) directed by Victor Fleming

The first question always is, "What? A Hollywood star? What was she doing inventing some piece of electrical engineering?" said Rhodes. "She set aside one room in her home, had a drafting table installed with the proper lighting, and the proper tools - had a whole wall in the room of engineering reference books." That, Rhodes said, was where she "invented."

Born Hedwig Kiesler to Jewish parents in Austria, Hedy had married a wealthy arms manufacturer named Fritz Mendl.

Her career took off. But the war in Europe was never far from her mind. And a chance dinner party with a Hollywood composer named George Antheil changed everything.

Like her, Antheil tinkered with ideas. He was famous for composing an avant-garde symphony using unconventional instruments, not the least of which were 20 player pianos, all synchronized. And that gave the two of them an idea: If pianos could be synchronized to hop from one note to another, why couldn't radio signals - steering a torpedo - hop as well? Their inventive partnership was born.

"Hedy's idea was if you could make both the transmitter and the receiver simultaneously jump from frequency to frequency, then someone trying to jam the signal wouldn't know where it was," said Rhodes. Source:

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