Most, O.K some, well maybe a few of us remember the 30's & 40's & early 50's movie star named Hedy Lamarr. But how many of us know that she was "more than just a pretty face."
During her marriage to Fritz Mandl, the munitions maker, Lamarr sat in on his business meetings and learned that one of the goals was to control weapons remotely by radio signals.
Lamarr's insight was to realize that continuously and randomly changing the radio frequencies would defy jamming. In early 1940, she and composer George Antheil devised a system for airplanes to direct torpedoes toward their targets.
Antheil and Lamarr patented their scheme, which they called "frequency hopping," and donated it to the government. Lamarr received no recognition, because the patent remained classified until 1985. Since then, the idea has been applied to cellphones, cordless phones and Wi-Fi Internet protocals that allow many people to share the same range of radio frequencies.
She led a reclusive life in her later years and died in 2000 with little assets. She and her partner never received a penny for their invention.