The innovations with the greatest impact in shaping human history often have curious origins. For example, one of the foundational technologies of the information age owes its legacy not to a Nobel Prize winner or academic marvel of computer science, but to a midcentury Hollywood starlet with little formal education.
Between 1940 and 1942, actress Hedy Lamarr developed the innovative concept of frequency hopping as a means to enable the U.S. Navy to build jamming-resistant radio-guided torpedoes. The Navy rejected Lamarr’s ideas, only to return to them decades later when her concepts became the underpinning of the science behind advanced communications and information warfare. Once declassified by the military, Lamarr’s frequency-hopping innovation evolved into spread-spectrum technology and helped launch the modern revolution in telecommunications.
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