Who is Hedy Lamarr and why Google pays tribute to her?
Google on Monday paid tribute to the late Austrian-born Hollywood actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr by featuring her on the browser’s homepage doodle in celebration of her 101st birthday.
But who is Lamarr and why is she significant to technology?
“We love highlighting the many good stories about women’s achievements in science and technology. When the story involves a 1940s Hollywood star-turned-inventor who helped develop technologies we all use with our smartphones today… well, we just have to share it with the world,” Google doodler Jennifer Hom said.
Hom started her acting career in Germany before leaving her husband and secretly flying to Paris, where she met American producer Louis Burt Mayer.
But Lamarr, who was once dubbed as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” was eventually bored by her Hollywood acting career and developed an interest in the field of applied science, and utilized it to help the Allied forces during the Second World War.
“Lamarr’s own story reads like a movie script: bored by the film industry and feeling typecast, Lamarr was more interested in helping the Allied war effort as World War II broke out than in the roles she was being offered. She had some background in military munitions (yes, really), and together with a composer friend, George Antheil, used the principles of how pianos worked (yep, pianos) to identify a way to prevent German submarines from jamming Ally radio signals,” Hom said.
Hom said Lamarr’s patent for “frequency hopping” laid the groundwork for the widely used Bluetooth, Global Positioning System (GPS), and Wi-Fi technologies.
Lamarr appeared in films such as Ecstacy (1933), Algiers (1938), and Samson and Delilah (1949).
She passed away in Florida in January 2000 at the age of 85 due to heart failure.