Tuesday, 16 October 2012
Happy Ava Lovelace Day!
Today is Ava Lovelace Day, which celebrates the achievements of women in scientific and technological fields.
To celebrate, I'm going to write about one of my favourites: Hedy Lamarr.
One of the most beautiful Hollywood actresses of her generation, Lamarr shot to fame with some pretty risque roles (including being one of the first women to portray the female orgasm in a "serious" Hollywood movie), and one of the few famous stars to do full-frontal nudity (something normally reserved for "stag" movies). She was a symbol of proud womanhood for all of the film industry, a powerful, sensual woman who wasn't afraid of the socially conservative attitudes of her time.
She also invented Wi-Fi.
Yep, you read that right - she created spread-spectrum technology, which would allow data to be transmitted via waves through the air instead of on wires. Bear in mind, at this point, people still used vacuum tubes; this technology was so advanced, it would be 1962 before people could start to produce it in any serious and reliable way. To cut down on interference that might cause issues with the transmission, she also came up with the idea "frequency hopping" - presumably casually, over lunch and a cigarette. Her and George Antheil (who helped her figure out a way to implement this frequency hop) laid the foundation for all the wireless networking we have today (including mobile phones!), despite being an early softcore-starlet and a famous musical composer respectively.
Bra-fucking-vo, my dear.