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Hedy Lamarr, femme fatale and inventor of spread spectrum communications (wikipedia.org)
65 points by Jun8 on May 21, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 8 comments

See the nomination of Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil for the EFF award in 1997 (http://www.ncafe.com/chris/pat2/index.html), she later received the award. Their invention was in 1942, way before the electronics that can implement this was invented, so it was mechanical.

It's an interesting and compelling story, and she deserves credit for her invention, but it's a serious exaggeration to say that she invented spread spectrum, or that current technology is based on her idea.

There were actual scientists working on these technologies back in her day whose work informed spread spectrum's development directly. Because she had no real connection to the scientific community, Lamarr's patent didn't do much beyond languish in a file cabinet, I'm afraid.

According to the article, the patent was filed in 1942 and lapsed 17 years later in 1959. However:

In 1998, "Ottawa wireless technology developer Wi-LAN, Inc. 'acquired a 49 percent claim to the patent from Lamarr for an undisclosed amount of stock'"

Why purchase rights to an expired patent?


[A joke that to get would have required seeing the following film: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blazing_Saddles ]

thanks Capt. Buzzkill

I remember learning about her in my introductory telecom course. Amazing story.

And a distant cousin to Dave Winer!

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