Are you reading this while you’re using a wireless connection? What’s (technological) life without wireless communication these days, right? Whether you like it or not, you are literally linked to the 1930s and 1940s. Let me introduce an Old Hollywood star to you who played a significant part in the (co-)invention of that beloved Wi-Fi wireless connection of the present: Hedy Lamarr.
Let’s enter the time machine. Back in the Golden Hollywood era, it was rare to be a brunette in a (Hollywood) world since it was mostly dominated by blondes. On the other hand, it was easy to stand out when you were not blonde. Hedy Lamarr stood out alright. Hedy Lamarr was born as Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna in 1914. In her teenage years she was discovered by an Austian director, who led to Hedy’s appearance in the (for that time-period) very controversial Czech movie Ecstasy in 1933. She was ahead of her times and probably one of the first actresses to do “controversial” nude scenes in a movie. Even the pope interfered back then. You know you’re in trouble when the pope gets involved.
via Kate Gabrielle – flickr.com
In that same year, she got married to munition manufacturer Friedrich Mandl. This marriage would’t lead to the “lived happily ever after life” she imagined. On the contrary, Mandl wasn’t what you would call a person with a nice, sparkling personality. In Lamarr’s own words, Mandl was more of the “extreme controlling” kind. Besides that, she also didn’t like the fact that he sold munition to the Nazis. However, there was a positive outcome of this experience. During her marriage, Lamarr often had to accompany her husband to meetings and events where scientist and military technology experts came together. Those events introduced her to the scientific field where she would later develop skills and co-invent an early technique of wireless communication.