1942, Hedy Lamarr secures a patent on frequency-hopping communications technology that eventually became the backbone of GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth.
The Unseen Story
Hedy Lamarr, born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in 1914 in Vienna, Austria, rose to fame in the 1940s acting in dozens of MGM films. Starring opposite screen legends like Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy in films ranging from Samson and Delilah to Ziegfield Girl to The Conspirators, Lamarr became one of the most acclaimed actresses of her time, a position that helped her get her get her family safely out of Nazi-occupied Austria as World War II began.
But Lamarr wasn’t satisfied being another pretty face on the silver screen. An avid inventor, she created an improved traffic light, a new (although unsuccessful) take on carbonated beverages, and a frequency-hopping communications technology that was ultimately adopted by the U.S. military and became the basis for GPS, Bluetooth and WiFi. She secured a patent for the technology in 1942, but due to its complexity it was not implemented until the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
In the late 1990s she was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in 2014 she was inducted into the Inventor’s Hall of Fame.