So, Hedy Lamarr was a glamour girl of the 1940's who fled Europe as Antisemitism there grew into Nazi-ism. MGM head Louie B. Mayer met her in Paris, declared her "the most beautiful girl in the world," and offered her a film career in the United States. Then, as a Hollywood star and classic "it girl," she developed the first frequency-hopping, spread spectrum communications system with pianist friend George Antheil. Wait ... what??!!

Ms. Lamarr was doubly-blessed as being a very attractive woman in a world that valued such things, and she was unusually intelligent. While she didn't have any formal technical training, she preferred tinkering over attending Hollywood parties. Conversations with war-time associates revealed that the Navy's radio-controlled torpedoes could be easily jammed by the enemy and she began working on the problem. Her pianist friend had developed techniques to synchronize multiple pianos for various musicals and she realized the techniques were applicable to the torpedo jamming problem. They could change the frequency of the torpedo's communications system according to a fixed schedule, unknown to the enemy. The enemy could jam one channel, but not them all. My technical friends will realize that this frequency-hopping technique is the precursor to WiFi, BlueTooth and GPS systems, among other systems.  The pair got a patent on the technique. 

One of the things I liked about this book is how innovations and new ideas can come from the most unexpected places and people. Also, people tend to dismiss ideas if they don't come from the usual places. A novel technical idea from a woman? And an attractive woman; a Hollywood starlet, as well! One who's appeared nude on film? Balderdash, I say!