Monday, December 19, 2011

A Dynamic Duo of Inventors

As a result of Hedy’s Folly:  The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, Lamarr’s patent for torpedo guidance based on frequency-hopping (a technology now fundamental to cellular communications) is receiving revived (and probably overdue) attention.  However, for those of us more interested in music than movies, the story has an added twist.  The patent application actually had two authors.  The other author was the composer George Antheil, and one of his contributions was to control the frequency variations with a form of punched tape, an idea Antheil probably got from his work with player pianos.  This may be the ultimate “power couple” in this history of innovation!

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