Hedy Lamarr, star of glamour and science

Hedy Lamarr is famous for her acting. But her contribution to the modern world is priceless. Let’s meet with the amazing Hollywood star who invented WiFi…

Important dates

  • November 9, 1914: birth of Hedwig Kiesler in Vienna, Austria
  • 1930: first movies under the direction of Georg Jacoby
  • 1931: arrival in Berlin where she will appear in several movies and an advertising campaign
  • 1933: Ecstasy will earn her a sulfurous reputation
  • 1938: Louis B. Mayer convinces Hedwig Kiesler to follow him to the United States and change her name for Lamarr
  • 1942: patent for the frequence-hopping system she invented with Antheil
  • 1945: Hedy Lamarr leaves the MGM and founds a production company
  • 1962: an update version of her invention is installed on Navy ships
  • 1997: Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award and Bulbie Gnass Spirit of Achievement Bronze Award
  • January 19, 2000: death of Hedy Lamarr

How a Hollywood actress helped inventing WiFi

 in mulHedy Lamarr is one of those women having achieved being not only a sex symbol but shining with her abilities as an inventor. Although her first image as an actress was that of a glamorous woman, strongly linked to her performance in the very sulfurous Ecstasy, she managed to become one of the world’s most innovative women.

The truth is, even though Hedy Lamarr belongs to the pantheon of Hollywood icons, she cut short her carreer in the 1940s, mpore attracted to science and telecommunications. This movie star, who co-starred with Clark Gable and gave life to Cecil B. DeMille’s Delilah was a self-taught inventor. Her passion for science, her eagerness to understand the world around her and her inventivity led her to become one of the inventor’s of what brought us the WiFi.

At the top of her carreer, as early as 1940, Hedy Lamarr started working on a way to improve the way torpedoes were radio-controlled after having learnt that they could be easily set of course. Instead of turning towards an engineer, she contacted her friend Geroge Antheil, a composer and pianist. Together, they invented a Secret Communication System which they patented.

The system aimed to allow distant communication with torpedoes by reducing the risk of detection and/or interception. You may wonder how an actress and a pianist would make that happen? Well, simply by basing their invention on a pair of synchronous records – the same type that had been used for years in player pianos – one at the transmitting station, one at the receiving one. The fact that the records weren’t know by other people would make it impossible to interfere with the communication system.

Their invention got the Electronic Foundation Pioneer Award in 1997, as well as the Bulbie Gnass Spirit of Achievement Bronze Award. But what was most important than awards was the implementation of an updated version on the Navy ships as soon as 1962. In just a few years, Hedy Lamarr had turned from a Hollywood star into a female pioneer.

A role model of her own, Hedy Lamarr has proved – if necessary – that women can be beautiful, feminine AND participate in the most important discoveries.