Hedy Lamarr once scandalized the planet by skinny-dipping stark naked at age 19 in the early blockbuster movie Ecstasy back in 1932. She wasn’t just a pioneering sex symbol, though. As Hedy herself said, “Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.” Hedy was up to a lot more than that in 1942, though.
She was already a globe-trotting multimedia superstar who had fled her Austrian marriage to a fascist weapons manufacturer to score a $3,000-a-week MGM movie contract. In her spare time, though, Hedy tinkered in home electronics–and today is the anniversary of when Hedy got the patent on technology that made wifi possible today.
Teamed with avant-garde musician George Antheil, Hedy herself conceived, designed, and executed a device that would jam the frequencies of radio controlled Nazi torpedoes and, ultimately, evolve directly into today’s Wifi, Bluetooth, and CDMA technologies.
On August 11, 1942, the United States government granted a patent to Lamarr and Antheil for their frequency-hopping spread-spectrum invention. While largely dormant for two decades, Lamarr’s ideas and devices proved crucial to the Navy during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis and she has been posthumously honored by National Inventors Council and entered this year into the Inventor’s Hall of Fame. And, today, every one of us is using Hedy’s gadgetry in one form or another–most likely as you’re actually reading this.
And that was all after Hedy had starred in the first-ever celebrity nude scene. All that historic achievement for a single hottie is Hedy indeed.