Drama queen behind spread spectrum

Hedy Lamarr
Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr, born in Austria, became famous for her daring naked scenes in the film Ecstasy. A few years later, she arrived in Hollywood, announced as “the world’s most beautiful woman”, and made a name for herself as a femme fatale. Her greatest success was in Samson and Delilah in 1949. 

But Lamarr has also gone into the history books for her contribution to radio communication. Together with composer George Antheil, she won a patent in 1942 for their invention, the “Secret Communication System”, which enables automatic changes of frequency between 88 radio channels. The invention was to make it more difficult to block radio-guided torpedoes. 

The concept is now called spread spectrum, and is the basis for the radio access method known as CDMA, Code Division Multiple Access.

Author: Svenolof Karlsson & Anders Lugn


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