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It's Ada Lovelace Day

A while ago I signed a pledge to post on March 24 (Ada Lovelace Day) about a woman in technology whom I admire but only if 1,000 other people would do the same." Since 1679 other people signed up, I'm about to honor my pledge.

I have to admit, Iím getting a little tired of writing about role models . Itís not that I donít have any role models; I have plenty, especially Wonder Woman who has been my most consistent role model. Along with her complete works; and her rotating music box, I still have the pair of Wonder Woman underroos daughter Kathryn gave me years ago. While they donít fit ( I donít think I had the body of a ten year old even when I was ten) they do remind me to keep dreaming and looking for a rope that makes people tell the truth.

Now as much as I admire Wonder Woman, calling her a woman in technology is kinda a stretch. But I do have a back up. Hedy Lamar. Who is Hedy LaMar, you ask. Well she was a drop dead gorgeous film star from the 1940s and 50s who was called the most beautiful woman in films. For you old movie buffs she was the one in the sarong in those Bob Hope and Bing Crosby On the Road to.... movies.

So why am I writing about her for Ada Lovelace Day? Because she and George Antheil developed a "Secret Communication System" that used slotted paper rolls similar to player-piano rolls to synchronize the frequency changes in transmitter and receiver, and it even called for exactly eighty-eight frequencies, the number of keys on a piano.

In 1957, their concept was taken up by engineers at the Sylvania Electronic Systems Division, in Buffalo, New York. Their arrangement, using, of course, electronics rather than piano rolls, ultimately became a basic tool for secure military communications. It was installed on ships sent to blockade Cuba in 1962, about three years after the Lamarr-Antheil patent had expired. Subsequent patents in frequency changing, which are generally unrelated to torpedo control, have referred to the Lamarr-Antheil patent as the basis of the field, and the concept lies behind the principal anti-jamming device used today, for example, in the U.S. government's Milstar defense communication satellite system.

Want to learn more? Check out Hedy the inventor here



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