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Wednesday, July 4, 2018
Hedy Lamarr, A Beauty & A Great Mind by Katherine Pym
Netflix has a series or documentary on Hedy Lamarr (Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler),
so I thought to share my post of her.
Hedy as born
1914 (some say 1913) in Vienna Austria to Jewish parents, both considered practicing
Christians. Doors opened for her when she performed in a risqué Czech movie. In
1933, she married Fritz Mandl, a wealthy armaments merchant and munitions
manufacturer who was in cahoots with the Nazis and sold armaments to Mussolini.
not happy with Hedy’s acting career. To keep her occupied and away from the
studio, he hosted lavish parties where Hitler and Mussolini were in attendance.
He’d take Hedy to business meetings where she listened to wealthy manufacturers
and their discussions on how to jam an enemy’s radio frequencies, to locate and
destroy their weapons.
Not stupid, Hedy may have looked like a flower to be admired but not acknowledged. At
those meetings, Hedy learned applied sciences.
Fritz was a
controlling man, very jealous. In her autobiography, Hedy stated he kept her
prisoner in their palatial mansion most of the time.
By 1937 as
Hitler’s strength extended throughout Germany and Austria, as he prepared to
spread his rancor throughout Europe, Hedy disappeared to Paris disguised as a
maid. She took most of Mandl’s jewels with her. While in Paris, she met Louis
B. Mayer, and the rest as they say is history.
Even as she
was beautiful, Hedy possessed a brilliant mind. She was an inventor and a
scientist. She created several items and obtained patents for them. She
remembered those meetings Fritz had dragged her to and she loathed the Nazis.
She did everything in her power to try and stop them.
Hedy had moved to Hollywood. During a dinner party, she met George Antheil, a man
of like mind. He was an avant-garde composer. They enjoyed each other’s company
and talked of Hedy’s ideas. When the evening ended, Hedy wrote her phone number
with lipstick on George’s windshield: Call
time, WW2 was in full swing. The loss of men at sea each day counted to the
several thousands. Allied ships were being sunk by torpedoes from German
George realized most of the weaponry during WW2 was radio controlled. They got
together and invented a “Secret Communications System” (US Patent No. 2,292,387) what today is known as a
“Spread Spectrum Transmission”. If their signals jammed German frequencies, the
weaponry would be sent off course, their munitions rendered useless.
George worked out a radio frequency called “frequency-hopping” that could not
be deciphered or jammed. They set up a sequencer “that would rapidly jump both
the control signal and its receiver through 88 random frequencies” similar to
the 88 keys on a piano.
explanation purposes on the patent material, they compared frequency-hopping to
a player-piano where the dots on paper are interspersed at irregular intervals.
If someone is trying to listen to you, the message will be jumbled,
undecipherable as if you hop around indiscriminately rather than walk in a
straight line. The sender and receiver know what these hopping intervals are
and can communicate. Someone who does not know this system would not be able to
bloomed into an actual process, then ‘Hedy Kiesler Markey and George Antheil’
sent their designs to the patent office. Their patent was accepted but the Navy
never embraced it. One obtuse fellow considered it impractical to stick a
player-piano into a torpedo. Their idea was shelved.
In his 1945
autobiography, George Antheil gave Hedy Lamarr full credit for the idea. In the
1950’s private companies dug the patent out of the archives and began to use its
science. A wireless technology called CDMA was developed (today’s WIFI &
Bluetooth). In the 1960’s the Navy used frequency-hopping during the Cuba
Missile Crisis.In the late 1990’s the
Electronic Frontier Foundation gave Hedy an award for her contribution to
Lamarr’s experiences with her first husband, her unbending dislike of the
Nazi’s and her embracement of the Allied war effort, we would not have wireless
communications. Oh, I know what you are thinking. Someone somewhere would have
figured it out, but I say Hedy’s the girl, the one who spearheaded what we