Hollywood Hacktress: This Screen Legend Invented WiFi. Whaaat?

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr

We know: who knew?! For those of you thinking to yourselves, Hedy Who now? — Hedy Lamarr was a Hollywood star of the 1940s and 50s known for playing the Biblical seductress Delilah, among other leading roles. But according to the new documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, the Austrian-born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler acted by day and hacked by night!

In addition to helping onetime paramour Howard Hughes improve the wing design on one of his airplanes, she and co-inventer George Anthiel developed a "Secret Communications System" that helped prevent the interception of Allied radio transmissions during WWII. The system's use of "spread spectrum" technology would later enable the digital wireless communications we rely on today.

But like so many women inventors and innovators before her (hey, Ada Lovelace, Rosalind Franklin, and Vera Rubin!), Lamarr's contributions were only belatedly recognized. Here's to shining a spotlight on another hidden figure....


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