Who to thank for your mobile phones, and your internet? An actress!

101 years ago today, in Vienna, a baby girl was born. Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, in fact, a good Jewish baby. Well, I assume she was good, at least. You’re right, thats not the name she made herself famous with, as an actress, that was Hedy Lamarr. I’m not going to bore you with all the details of her movie career, and past history, if you want to read that, Wikipedia can guide you at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedy_Lamarr

But during WW2, she patented something relating to frequency-hopping spread-spectrum, which helped the Allies to win the war. What wasnt known at the time, or indeed for about 40 years after, was the importance of this. Then companies started developing something called mobile phones, and guess what system they had to use to develop these devices? Yes, you’ve guessed it, frequency-hopping spread-spectrum! It was only when they tried to patent it, they discovered that they had been beaten to it, by over 40 years!

So they had to track down Hedy Lamarr, pay her off to gain the rights, and the rest is history. And yes, you guessed it, some of her other scientific work is how the internet developed. So the next time you ponder the scientific genius that allows you to make phone calls, or trawl the internet, just consider this. A movie actress helped to make all this possible!

See, not all actresses were just pretty faces!

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