I was going to do something on the founder of GENIX, a variation of unix, but I can find nothing on her. So, to the prime example of someone that exemplifies the fact that just because you’re in a male-dominated discipline doesn’t need you need to act less female to get ahead. Ladies and gentlemen: Hedy Lamarr.
A few of the older people reading this/those who watch old films, the name Hedy Lamarr may conjure up images of a sultry woman in black and white, rather than anything else. These people may be confused about why I’m mentioning Hedy Lamarr in this post.
Admittedly, Hedy Lamarr is most well-known for her acting career. She starred in 18 films from 1938 to 1957. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She starred opposite Judy Garland and Lana Turner. She married six times, and divorced six times.
In 1941, she and her next-door neighbour, composer George Antheil, submitted a patent request for a “secret communication system”, which was granted in 1942. The technology involved using a piano roll (one of those cylinders for operating player pianos) to switch a radio between 88 possible frequencies, and was originally designed to prevent detection or jamming of radio-controlled torpedoes.
What they had discovered was later termed “frequency-hopping spread spectrum”. It involves the base sending and receiving signals on one of a wide band of possible ferequencies. Which frequencies are chosen and when is predetermined signal known only to the base and the receiver. This allows for much more secure radio communication and makes the signal far more resistant to narrowband interference, as well as being able to share a frequency band with multiple other conventional sources with minimal interference. A variation of this system, COFDM, is in use today for Wi-Fi connections, while another variation, CDMA, is used for cordless phones and by the military.
As I mentioned, I chose Hedy Lamarr because she made a difference in a male-dominated area, while not sacrificing her femininity one jot. And for that, and for her discovery, she deserved to be remembered.
“I made a picture called Super Mario Bros., and my six-year-old son at the time — he’s now 18 — he said, ‘Dad, I think you’re probably a pretty good actor, but why did you play that terrible guy King Koopa in Super Mario Bros.?’ and I said, ‘Well Henry, I did that so you could have shoes,’ and he said, ‘Dad, I don’t need shoes that badly.’”—Dennis Hopper, from Why The Hell Dennis Hopper Did That Mario Movie - Kotaku