Hedy Lamarr was not only an actress with her breathtaking beauty but also an inventor who pioneered the technology that would one day form the basis for today’s WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth communication systems.
“The brains of people are more interesting than the looks I think,” Hollywood actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr said in 1990, 10 years before she passed.
The striking movie star may be most well-known for her roles in the 1940s Oscar-nominated films ‘Algiers’ and ‘Sampson and Delilah.’ But it is her technical mind that is her greatest legacy, according to a documentary on her life called ‘Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story.’ The film chronicles the patent that LaMarr filed for frequency-hopping technology in 1941 that became a precursor to the secure wi-fi, GPS and, Bluetooth now used by billions of people around the world.
“Inventions are easy for me to do,’ the Austrian accented LaMarr says in ‘Bombshell.’ “I don’t have to work on ideas, they come naturally.”
What did not come naturally to LaMarr was the notoriety and compensation she deserved for her ideas. The patent she filed with co-inventor George Antheil aimed to protect their war-time invention for radio communications to ‘hop’ from one frequency to another so that Allied torpedoes couldn’t be detected by the Nazis. To this day, neither LaMarr nor her estate had seen a cent from the multi-billion-dollar industry her idea paved the way for, even though the U.S. military has publicly acknowledged her frequency-hopping patent and contribution to technology.