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  • Hedy Lamarr: Film Star, Inventor

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on May 4th, 2004 (All posts by )

    There’s a fascinating article in the NYT about the 1940’s era, Austrian born film star Hedy Lamarr. Not only was she widely considered one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, she’s one of the patent holders of the idea of ‘frequency hopping’ communications. This breakthrough idea is now widely used in everything from cell phones to military satellites to jam-resistant radar.

    Neither Lamarr nor her co-inventor, composer George Antheil, ever received a penny for the idea. Their patent expired before it became technologically possible to implemet it.

    The Patent
    Hedy Lamarr Photo Gallery


    13 Responses to “Hedy Lamarr: Film Star, Inventor”

    1. Jonathan Says:

      She looks smart.

      Welcome to the blog, Michael.

    2. Lex Says:

      Jonathan, how about putting one of those fabulous glamor shots of Miss Lamarr at the top of this post?

      Damn, she was beautiful.

    3. Jonathan Says:

      Lex, I defer to the Chicagoboyz admin prime directive: avoid gratuitous interference with other people’s posts. But if Michael wishes to put a photo up we can certainly accommodate him.

    4. Lex Says:

      Jonathan, forgive me for forgetting the prime directive.

      Michael, I suggest 5, 6, 15 or 23.

    5. richard Cook Says:

      Hedy Lamar’s combination of beauty and brains is almost never seen on this earth.

    6. Steven Den Beste Says:

      Actually, the US Army Air Corps used a primitive version of that technology later in the war to communicate to Eighth Air Force bombers over Germany, because it was extremely difficult to jam and extremely difficult for the Germans to triangulate on and track.

    7. Lex Says:

      We should put Hedy Lamar’s pictures on the blog from time to time, just because.

    8. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      I think I hear the sound of unrequited love.

      More Hedy:

      She does give a classy look to the place, doesn’t she? Ya know, being that she’s good looking AND smart, like the rest of us here, maybe we should nominate her as an honorary Chicago Gyrl (the first?). We could put her between Knight and Fermi. Or between Coase and Shils.

      You got any pull with Jonathon, Lex? If not, maybe you could wash his car or something. It’s worth a shot.

    9. Lex Says:

      Not unrequited love, just plain old appreciation for female beauty, mixed up with admiration for the old days, when even Hollywood actresses who traded on their looks carried themselves with taste and class.

      I’ll add my vote to making Miss Lamar a ChicagoGrrrl. She could keep old Frank Knight and Hayek and Fermi company, and I bet they’d be glad to have her on the team. But, it is Jonathan’s world, we only live in it … .

    10. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Not unrequited love…

      It’s OK Lex, you’re among friends here. Just let it all out.

    11. radiohead Says:

      Actually, She and her honey stole the data from the germans (her ex husband) and once here filed the patent. The us used it to guide torpedos. So, it was more espionage than invention.

    12. Lex Says:

      No, Michael. Really. No crushes on long-dead movie stars from 60 years ago. My heart belongs to my wife. Or the last three Miss Belgiums. (Don’t make me pick) But mostly my wife.

    13. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Well, I’ve got a crush on her.