Women in Tech – Making role models visible

Hedy Lamarr

As with so many women we have talked about, and will talk about in this post, Lamarr’s work was appreciated very late. It wasn’t until the late 20th century that there was public recognition of the value her invention had for the general public.
In 1942, Lamarr and Antheil patented their invention and made the patent available to the U.S. Navy. They wanted to help the Allies in the war against the Nazis. But the Navy initially rejected the offer and did not return to it until 20 years later. In 1962, U.S. ships used frequency hopping to control their torpedoes during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Over time, the method was further developed and is now considered the basis for Bluetooth, WLAN and other communication methods.
In 1941, Hedy Lamarr (née Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler), together with George Antheil, invented a remote control for torpedoes that used simultaneous frequency hopping, making it much harder to interfere with from the outside. Today, this technique, officially known as frequency hopping, is important for technologies such as Bluetooth and WLAN.
The Austrian was actually known for her acting career. In her first Hollywood film, she caused scandal by performing nude scenes and was marketed by her studio as the most beautiful woman in the world. She certainly felt the downside of this role assignment in many ways, but a well-known one is that producers forbade her to talk about her inventions. This was probably one of the reasons why her numerous inventions went unnoticed.

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