Electronic Design

Hedy Lamarr

Lamarr (2002)

Dubbed by MGM's Louis B. Mayer as the "most beautiful girl in the world," Lamarr fled the rise of Nazism, leaving her native Austria for Hollywood in 1937. But the most fascinating chapter in her life occurred during World War II, when Lamarr and the avant garde musician George Antheil received a patent for a "secret communications system" intended for use in guiding U.S. Navy torpedoes. Lamarr and Antheil conceived the idea of "frequency hopping" to quickly shift the radio signals of control devices, making them invulnerable to radio interference or jamming. Truly ahead of its time, the system was never implemented by the military, in part because the technology of the time was inadequate. The system finally came into its own in the cellular telephone age. Now called "spread spectrum" instead of "frequency hopping," the basic idea is the same.

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