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The Google Doodle for today celebrates Hedy Lamarr’s 101st birthday.
In her day, Hedy Lamarr was widely recognized as a Hollywood icon and one of the most beautiful women in the world. What the world failed to see at the time, was that she was a brilliant inventor whose work laid the foundation for our modern wireless society.
At the beginning of World War II, intent on aiding the Allied war effort, Lamarr identified jamming of Allied radio communications by the Axis as a particular problem, and with composer George Antheil, developed spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology to defeat it. Though the US Navy did not adopt the technology until the 1960s, the principles of her work are now incorporated into modern Wi-Fi, CDMA and Bluetooth technology, and this work led to her being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014
Lamarr was a lifelong inventor, building an improved traffic light and tablet that made an instant carbonated beverage — although she later admitted the drink “tasted like Alka-Seltzer.”
During World War II, she wanted to devote herself full-time to discovering inventions that could help defeat the Nazis, but was convinced by the government that she could do more good by using her fame to sell war bonds, which she did with gusto.
If there was a Heroic Girl hall of fame, Hedy Lamarr would surely be in it.
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