Cate is our peppy Marketing & Events Manager, Copywriter, and UI Tester. You can read her bio here! Her pick for Corvum’s hero spotlight is the long misunderstood, but ever-driven inventor and actress Hedy Lamarr.
“The brains of people are more interesting than the looks I think,” said Lamarr towards the end of her life. The images of Snow White and Cat Woman were both based on Lamarr’s “looks”. As cool as that is, however, it is her creativity, genius and love of tinkering that really sparkles here. Lamarr co-created a covert communication system (radio guidance via frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology) which helped to defeat the Nazis in WWII. Yet for most of her life, she, nor anyone else, for that matter – were even aware that her patent had been utilized at all. Her technology also went on to become the basis for modern day GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth. Not too shabby!
Lamarr spent most of her life being seen merely as a glamorous Hollywood puppet, but she defied those who would dismiss her and invented cool things anyway. Dr. Simon Nyeck said that “… historically, women have been positioned in the media within an antiquated, one-dimensional framework created from a male perspective… multi-faceted women like Lamarr are often only valued for their physicality, and not for their ability to think, invent or create.”
Primarily self-taught Lamarr invented because it was her passion, she saw it as a “hobby”. “Inventions are easy for me to do,’ LaMarr says in the documentary ‘Bombshell.’ “I don’t have to work on ideas, they come naturally.” It is a tragedy that Lamarr was never properly credited nor compensated for her amazing achievements. She should truly be respected and admired – she loved to create things that would be helpful to people, not simply to bask in ego-based glory.
Her inventions came to be in a fascinating way. The above-mentioned was inspired by something dear to Cate’s heart, music. Lamarr and her friend, composer and pianist George Antheil synchronized “a miniaturized player-piano mechanism with radio signals” that could not be tracked or jammed.
In 2014 – fourteen years after Lamarr passed away – she and Antheil were posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. They had previously also received the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award, and the Bulbie Gnass Spirit of Achievement Bronze Award in 1997.
Shivaune Field wrote in Forbes: “to this day, neither LaMarr nor her estate have seen a cent from the multi-billion-dollar industry her idea paved the way for, even though the U.S. military has publicly acknowledged her frequency-hopping patent and contribution to technology”.
Lunenburd Doc Fest / Bombshell