Hedy Lamarr’s on the Line!

Hedy Lamarr fled Nazi-occupied Austria and invented cell phone technology in the 1940s?? Sort of, yes!

As with many amazing things I discover, I heard this story on PRX Remix and couldn’t stop thinking about it all night.

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr Publicity Photo


The story in short: Thought to be the most beautiful woman in the world, acclaimed Hollywood actress and brilliant inventor Lamarr was first the wife of Fritz Mandl, an arms manufacturer and socialite in Vienna. Mandl lived a life of greed, wheeling and dealing weapons and entertaining bigwigs like Mussolini and Hitler despite his Jewish heritage.

Lamarr escaped from this life, eventually making it to California, where she began to show clear patriotism, enraged by Nazi violence against innocent children and perhaps spurred by a desire to make up for her ex-husband’s disregard for humanity. Consumed by the idea of new communication methods between U.S. naval ships and their torpedoes, she devised a method of frequency switching that was undetectable by enemy ships.

When she finally partnered with composer George Antheil (who used a similar technology to synch 9 player pianos for live performance), Lamarr was able to put her thoughts into action. Together, they patented frequency-switching, a technology that was WAY ahead of its time.

In fact, it wasn’t until the 1960s that modern military equipment could harness this technology, and the U.S. Military made good use of it. Was this the culmination of Hedy Lamarr’s brainchild? You didn’t forget about the cell phone, did you?

CDMA Diagram

CDMA

The technology described in the patent filed by Lamarr and Antheil in the 1940s forms the basis of CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access), the technology on which modern day cell phones were developed. Sure, some will tell you it was the Russians who first harnessed this phenomenon… but me? I’m proud of the heart and accomplishments of my Jewish American sister.

Good Deeds Day 2013

Good Deeds Day is coming up everybody! What project are you planning to help somebody in your community?

Since its inception in 2007, Good Deeds Day has grown to have 250,000 participants in Israel last year, and thousands more worldwide. Apparently MTV has been involved in marketing the cause, and several large sponsors help the organization to continue growth and outreach.

You can help too! Need some ideas?? Check with a local nonprofit or religious organization to see how you might be able to help out on March 10th, or visit a neighbor to see if they need help with any home projects! Grab some friends and make someone else smile. You can make it happen.

BTW, if you’re in Israel you get to do your mitzvah early on March 5th 🙂