Welcome to a world of secret communication, arms trading, mobile phones, film stars, piano players, nudity in the woods and one of the most unusual sources of revolutionary new technologies ever. This is the story of the birth of a new communication technique called spread spectrum and how it has evolved to impact our lives today. It is also the story of a forgotten patent and its two unlikely inventors.
Spread spectrum is a technology that was first developed to provide secret radio
Hedy Lamarr was lauded by Hollywood as the most beautiful girl in the world. She made a whole series of films, starring with the big names of the forties. Yet behind all of this, behind a face that launched many young boys into manhood and enslaved many an older man, lay an inventive and fertile brain. Miss Lamarr was the first woman to appear naked on the silver screen. She was also, with George Antheil, one of the first to patent a technology which has shown itself to be an essential solution to secret communication via radio and to the sharing of increasingly busy radio channels.
George Antheil was the self-
Hedy and George's idea, first patented in 1942, was initially shunned. Yet,
in the decades that followed, the basic principle was reinvented, refined and put
to practical use in all manner of radio solutions, solutions that the inventors could
never have imagined. The technique that they described is now called frequency hopping.
It was before its time in the 1940s, but now has pride of place in a whole family
of related solutions that are generally called -
This book traces the many strands that led to the invention and that follow
from it. The true source of the idea may have been Fritz Mandl, Hedy's first husband
and an unscrupulous arms trader. The book traces his origins and those of his dubious
trade. The invention relies upon the use of radio, so the book traces the origins
of this technology and the inventive leaps that enabled its use in mobile telephony.
The patent actually describes a novel method of controlling torpedoes so the development
and use of these deadly underwater missiles in the first and second world wars is
traced. Most importantly the river of technology which followed the invention is
investigated. After the second world war most of the work on spread spectrum was
carried out in the deepest secrecy -
Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil lived interesting and varied lives. This book explains the phenomenal breakthrough that they achieved, and how they have added a touch of glamour to a whole new branch of communication technology. Surrounding it all is a mystery: just how did a successful Hollywood film star and a prolific composer, each with no technical background whatsoever, come to invent something so important? Why was the patent ignored for so long, and why did Hedy fail to mention it in her autobiography? What is the real story behind the origins of spread spectrum?
Hedy and George did not benefit from their invention. But their seminal work
is now becoming widely recognised. It is celebrated in this book, the first to explain
the significance of spread spectrum in non-
The book is written by someone who has the necessary background and ability to take on such a varied and challenging project.