Letters to the Editor 2019

To the Editor: 

One of the most beautiful women in the 1940’s was the Hollywood starlet Hedy Lamarr. While attending a Hollywood party, she met composer/pianist George Antheil and they struck up a platonic friendship that lasted a lifetime. As a result of this encounter, they began working on the intricacies within the tech world, which would lead up to what we now call “spread spectrum” or “frequency hopping.” 

They developed a “secret communication” system to help alter the radio frequencies going from a torpedo to its target. It was patented and Antheil gave all the credit to Lamarr.

The Navy’s opinion of all the technology during World War II was basically “let the Navy do their business and Hollywood would be better off raising money for war bonds,” which they did, to the tune of $6 million.

After the war, their technological efforts became the basis for the $25 billion Defense Communication System for which they never received a penny from our government. Later, she told Forbes Magazine, “I guess the government takes and forgets;” meaning her technological accomplishments which led to advances in computers, database systems, and cell phones. Her expertise also led to “frequency-hopping systems” such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS.

In 2000, our government finally recognized her for achievements outside of her Hollywood fame to which she responded, “Well, it took them long enough to get it correct.” Posthumously, in 2002, she was inducted into the Electronic Design Hall of Fame alongside such luminaries as Marconi, Tesla, Jobs, and Hewlett Packard – not a shabby group of inductees.

Perhaps all of the above terminologies gives you a better understanding of the technology we use in our everyday living. A lot of credit can be given to Lamarr, “the sex goddess with brains,” and her pianist friend, Antheil.