Women Pioneers of Electrical and Electronic Engineering - Hedy Lamar (Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler (191
Hedy Lamarr was an Austrian-born American film actress and inventor, most famous for her role as Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille's film Samson and Delilah (1949).
However, Lamarr was technically minded and was an inventor filing several patents in her lifetime.
Lamarr had no formal training and was primarily self-taught, she worked in her spare time on various hobbies and inventions, which included an improved traffic stoplight and a tablet that would dissolve in water to create a carbonated drink. The beverage was unsuccessful; Lamarr herself said it tasted like Alka-Seltzer.
Among the few who knew of Lamarr's inventiveness was aviation tycoon Howard Hughes. She suggested he change the rather square design of his aeroplanes (which she thought looked too slow) to a more streamlined shape, based on pictures of the fastest birds and fish she could find. Lamarr discussed her relationship with Hughes during an interview, saying that while they dated, he actively supported her "tinkering" hobbies. He put his team of scientists and engineers at her disposal, saying they would do or make anything she asked for.
During World War II, Lamarr learned that radio-controlled torpedoes, an emerging technology in naval war, could easily be jammed and set off course. Lamarr thought of creating a frequency-hopping signal that could not be tracked or jammed. She contacted her friend, composer and pianist George Antheil, to help her develop a device based on the idea and they succeeded by synchronizing a miniaturized player-piano mechanism with radio signals. They drafted designs for the frequency-hopping system, which they patented.
Their invention was granted a patent under US Patent 2,292,387 on August 11, 1942 (filed using her married name Hedy Kiesler Markey). However, it was technologically difficult to implement, and at that time the U.S. Navy was not receptive to considering inventions coming from outside the military. In 1962 (at the time of the Cuban missile crisis), an updated version of their design at last appeared on Navy ships.
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