for a radio program talking about Hedy Lamar's life AND her contributions to technology during the war.
As she was inventing, Rhodes says, Lamarr was simultaneously glued to the events of World War II. When German submarines began targeting passenger cruise liners, he says, she felt compelled to invent something to help the Allied cause. She zeroed in on torpedoes, which were powerful weapons but hard to control. Rhodes says she thought that if they could be radio-guided, there was a better chance they would hit their target.
"She understood that the problem with radio signals was that they could be jammed. But if you could make the signal hop around more or less randomly from radio frequency to radio frequency, then the person at the other end trying to jam the signal won't know where it is," he says. "If they try to jam one particular frequency, it might hit that frequency on one of its hops, but it would only be there for a fraction of a second."
Thus, her take on "spread-spectrum radio" was born. Lamarr and her co-inventor, composer George Antheil, submitted their idea to the National Inventor's Council and received a patent for their "Secret Communication System" in 1942. They were anxious to share their invention with the Navy, but got a lackluster response.
"The Navy being the Navy, if it hadn't been able to make a torpedo that worked, obviously it wasn't going to be receptive to ideas coming in from outside," Rhodes says. "The Navy basically threw it into the file.""