Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cropped screenshot of Hedy Lamarr from the fil...Image via Wikipedia

Not Just Another Pretty Face

"Today is Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. Women's contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognized. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Whatever she does, whether she is a sysadmin or a tech entrepreneur, a programmer or a designer, developing software or hardware, a tech journalist or a tech consultant, we want to celebrate her achievements."

I took the pledge to blog today about women in technology, so I'm going to write about Hedy Lamarr. Most of the world knows of Lamarr as a movie actress of the 20th Century, but few are aware of her accomplishments as a scientist, accomplishments that were largely unacknowledged during her lifetime. Lamarr is credited for her work with George Anteill on "frequency hopping", which, according to Wikipedia, "serves as a basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology, such as COFDM used in WiFi network connections and CDMA used in some cordless and wireless telephones."

Lamarr, who'd fled the Nazis to live in the US, wanted to join the Inventors Council during WWII, but was told she could better use her celebrity status as a sultry movie siren to sell War Bonds. She died in 2000, but her fame as an inventor is now spreading, thanks to the technology she helped create.

From the Ada Lovelace Facebook Page:

"Who was Ada?
Ada Lovelace was one of the world's first computer programmers, and one of the first people to see computers as more than just a machine for doing sums. She wrote programmes for Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine, a general-purpose computing machine, despite the fact that it was never built. She also wrote the very first description of a computer and of software."
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