Hedy Lamarr

LAMARR, Hedy, née Kiesler Markey Austrian/American film star, b-1913. She was first married to a fascist arms producer (Fritz Mandl). She left a bad marriage but had been a good listener when her husband was talking about weapons. In 1940 she was a Hollywood star and extremely successful. Hedy met George Antheil, the composer, an innovative musician who was particularly known for his Ballet Mecanique in 1926 (using novel electromechanical sound effects). Odd as it may seem, their conversation was about the Allied subs not making efficient use of torpedoes. The problem was mainly the sea-currents and evasive action by the enemy. Hedy remembered conversations from when she was 26 and married to Mandl. Hedy and George concluded it would be easy for the enemy to jam a radio-controlled signal. Their  solution was a frequency-hopping sequencer, able to jump rapidly and randomly through a series of 88 frequencies. The patent filed in 1941 used her maiden name, Hedy Kiesler Markey. The US Navy did not use their invention until 3 years after the patent expired. It had been re-invented in 1957 by Sylvania Corp. Later it was in worldwide use. Antheil said it was her idea, so Hedy was certainly not just a pretty face. The name of the invention was Spread Spectral Communications, it was listed as a secret communication device. They didn’t benefit financially from their invention. It was unfortunate that the idea only became really effective when electronics had advanced further and the components became readily available.

Filmstar Inventor

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