Hedy Lamarr (1914 - 2000) was an Austrian-American actress and inventor who achieved fame both for her acting career and her groundbreaking contributions to technology. Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, Austria, she gained international recognition for her beauty and acting talents.
Lamarr's acting career took off in the 1930s and 1940s, and she appeared in numerous films, including "Algiers" (1938) and "Samson and Delilah" (1949), which became one of her most iconic roles.
However, Lamarr's innovation extended beyond the entertainment industry. During World War II, she collaborated with composer George Antheil to develop a technology known as frequency hopping spread spectrum. This invention was intended to create secure communication for military purposes by rapidly switching radio frequencies, making it difficult for enemies to intercept messages. Although the technology wasn't fully implemented during the war, it laid the groundwork for modern wireless communication and has been a foundational concept for technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Despite the significance of her scientific breakthrough, Lamarr faced challenges in gaining recognition for her work. As an actress, she was often dismissed and underestimated, leading to her inventions being undervalued. It was only later in her life that she received the acknowledgment she deserved, being posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.
“Hedy invented scientific tools in her spare time, and was often labelled (and not taken seriously) because she was very beautiful and an actress. She married and divorced six times, citing that she found her marriages oppressive. I think, considering when and where she grew up, she suffered a lot of stigma, but she persevered and followed her ambitions. She overcame many obstacles and I admire this in her.” – Dr Anja Winter, Life Sciences