Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil

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pages: 322 words: 88,197

Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson

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Ada Lovelace, Alfred Russel Wallace, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Book of Ingenious Devices, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, colonial exploitation, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Drosophila, Edward Thorp, Fellow of the Royal Society, game design, global village, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, HyperCard, invention of air conditioning, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, land value tax, Landlord’s Game, lone genius, mass immigration, megacity, Minecraft, moral panic, Murano, Venice glass, music of the spheres, Necker cube, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, pets.com, placebo effect, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Oldenburg, spice trade, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, talking drums, the built environment, The Great Good Place, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, Victor Gruen, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, white picket fence, Whole Earth Catalog, working poor, Wunderkammern

Antheil failed to devise a scheme to synchronize his sixteen player pianos. But the attempt to solve that problem—in the name of art and sonic experimentation—would lead, almost two decades later, to a breakthrough military technology, one that would eventually become a crucial component of civilian wireless communications. As it happens, to make that leap, Antheil needed the most unlikely partner imaginable: Hedy Lamarr, at the time one of the most glamorous movie stars in the world. Hedy Lamarr Ignored for many decades, the story of Lamarr and Antheil’s strange-bedfellows collaboration has in recent years become part of tech-history lore. Lamarr had begun her career as an actress in Weimar Germany, and married an arms dealer who ultimately turned out to have ties to the Nazis. She fled Europe in 1937 and found her way to MGM studios, where she quickly became one the great seductresses of American cinema.

Babbage figured out how to swap algorithms in and out of random access memory before the rest of us figured out how to strike a few keys with our fingers and make letters appear on a page. “From a mechanical point of view”: Michael H. Adler, The Writing Machine (London: Allen and Unwin, 1973), 5. The very first long-distance: For more on the talking drums, see James Gleick, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood (New York: Vintage, 2012). “The Ballet began”: Richard Rhodes, Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World (New York: Doubleday, 2011), 68. “outsacked the Sacre”: Paul Lehrman, “Blast from the Past,” Wired, November 1, 1999, http://www.wired.com/1999/11/ballet. “From this moment on”: Ibid. Antheil later wondered: Quoted in Anna Corey, “How ‘The Bad Boy of Music’ and ‘The Most Beautiful Girl in the World’ Catalyzed a Wireless Revolution—in 1941.” http://people.seas.harvard.edu/~jones/cscie129/nu_lectures/lecture7/hedy/lemarr.htm.

Mesopotamian Civilization: The Material Foundations. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997. Reiss, Steven. “Expectancy Model of Fear, Anxiety, and Panic.” Clinical Psychology Review 11:2 (1991): 141–53. Rescorla, Robert A., and Allan R. Wagner. Classical Conditioning: Current Research and Theory. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts: 1972. Rhodes, Richard. Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World. New York: Doubleday, 2011. Riskin, Jessica. “The Defecating Duck, Or, the Ambiguous Origins of Artificial Life.” Critical Inquiry 29:4 (2003): 599–633. ———. “Eighteenth-Century Wetware.” Representations 83:1 (2003): 97–125. Rosheim, Mark E. Robot Evolution: The Development of Anthrobotics. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 1994. Rothfels, Nigel.


pages: 385 words: 103,561

Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Our World by Greg Milner

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Ayatollah Khomeini, British Empire, creative destruction, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, digital map, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, experimental subject, Flash crash, friendly fire, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, land tenure, lone genius, Mars Rover, Mercator projection, place-making, polynesian navigation, precision agriculture, race to the bottom, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, smart grid, the map is not the territory

(The first word, used sporadically for a few years, was eventually dropped altogether.) One of the most controversial aspects of the system was the decision on how to structure the ranging signal sent by the satellites to GPS receivers. Spread-spectrum technology, of which the GPS signal is one form, has an unlikely provenance. In the early 1940s, the actress Hedy Lamarr, at the pinnacle of her Hollywood fame, collaborated with the composer George Antheil on a wartime idea they believed would prevent jamming of the signals sent to radio-controlled torpedoes. They proposed spreading the signal over several different frequencies—effectively increasing the signal’s bandwidth—so that an enemy would have the difficult task of jamming them all to prevent the signal’s informational content from getting through.

Ballard, Development and Employment of Fixed-Wing Gunships, 1962–1972 (Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force, 1982), 84–5. 52 “the automated battlefield”: Quoted in Frank Barnaby, Ronald Huisken, and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Arms Uncontrolled (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1975), 72. 52 Igloo White: Phil Stanford, “The Automated Battlefield,” New York Times, February 23, 1975. 52 “keen appreciation”: Brad Parkinson, author interview. 54 “I recognized that there was pressure”: Brad Parkinson, oral history interview by Michael Geselowitz. 54 On Labor Day 1973: On the “lonely halls” meeting, see Bradford W. Parkinson and Stephen T. Powers, “Fighting to Survive: Five Challenges, One Key Technology, the Political Battlefield—and a GPS Mafia,” GPS World, June 2010. 54 the actress Hedy Lamarr: Len Jacobson, Flying For GPS (Xlibris, 2014), 34. 55 This is what every GPS receiver: For a concise explanation of GPS and spread-spectrum signals, see Jacobson, Flying For GPS, 46–8. 55 10-watt bulb in Rome: Jules McNeff, “The Global Positioning System: A Quiet Revolution in Time and Space,” IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques 50, no. 3 (March 2002). 55 amplify the signal: “Using Psuedo [sic] Random Code as an Amplifier,” http://www.trimble.com/gps_tutorial/sub_amplify.aspx. 56 “otherwise brilliant career”: Brad Parkinson, “GPS For Humanity,” Stanford Engineering Hero Lecture, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?


pages: 464 words: 127,283

Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia by Anthony M. Townsend

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1960s counterculture, 4chan, A Pattern Language, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, anti-communist, Apple II, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Burning Man, business process, call centre, carbon footprint, charter city, chief data officer, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, computer age, congestion charging, connected car, crack epidemic, crowdsourcing, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Deng Xiaoping, digital map, Donald Davies, East Village, Edward Glaeser, game design, garden city movement, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, ghettoisation, global supply chain, Grace Hopper, Haight Ashbury, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jane Jacobs, jitney, John Snow's cholera map, Khan Academy, Kibera, knowledge worker, load shedding, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, mobile money, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, off grid, openstreetmap, packet switching, Parag Khanna, patent troll, Pearl River Delta, place-making, planetary scale, popular electronics, RFC: Request For Comment, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, social software, social web, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, too big to fail, trade route, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, working poor, working-age population, X Prize, Y2K, zero day, Zipcar

But by the mid-1990s, a new generation of cheap and powerful digital signal processing chips was under development. They would power advanced radios that could turn junk spectrum into a broadband bonanza. Wi-Fi used this new computational power and a frequency-hopping technique called “spread-spectrum,” originally devised for torpedo guidance during World War II by actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil, to simply weave its signals around any interference.22 The result was that computers could now shove almost as much data across the public airwaves as they could over a wire, with no subscription fees. Wireless local area network (WLAN) systems had existed in offices and warehouses for years, but every manufacturer used a different standard. When the universal Wi-Fi standard known as IEEE 802.11b was finalized in 1999, the market coalesced quickly.

., Evaluating New Telecommunications Services (New York: Plenum Publishing, 1978). 8Burns, “Cultural Identity and Integration in the New Media World,” 6–7. 9Red Burns, interview by author, New York, October 24, 2011. 10Martin Elton, martin.elton@nyu.edu, “Through the Looking Glass: The Rhizome article on ITP,” private e-mail reposted by Gilad Rosner, itp-alumni@lists.nyu.edu, December 21, 2011. 11Red Burns, “Technology is not enough,” paper presented at the American Council on Education, Washington, DC, October 16, 1981. 12Burns, interview, October 24, 2011. 13William Gibson, “Rocket Radio,” Rolling Stone, June 15, 1989. 14Burns, “Cultural Identity and Integration in the New Media World,” 7. 15Dennis Crowley, interview by author, May 13, 2011. 16Dodgeball.com, November 9, 2000, http://web.archive.org/web/200011092025/http://www.dodgeball.com/city/. 17Crowley, interview, May 13, 2011. 18Crowley, interview, May 13, 2011. 19Crowley, interview, May 13, 2011. 20Five years later, when a half-decade’s worth of archived check-ins were migrated to the Foursquare database, Crowley e-mailed with the discovery that on November 17, 2003, during a test, I had tapped out a terse message, hit send, and became the first person (other the Crowley and Rainert) to check in on the third version of Dodgeball. 21Crowley, interview, May 13, 2011. 22Laura Barnett, “If It Wasn’t For Hedy Lamarr, We Wouldn’t Have Wi-Fi,” The Guardian, last modified December 4, 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/shortcuts/2011/dec/04/hedy-lamarr-wifi. 23“A Brief History of Wi-Fi,” The Economist, June 10, 2004, http://www.economist.com/node/2724397. 24Alvin F. Harlow, Old Wires and New Waves: The History of the Telegraph, Telephone and Wireless (New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1936), 456; “About IIT: Hall of Fame: Lee DeForest,” last modified October 2, 2012, http://www.iit.edu/about/history/hall_of_fame/lee_de_forest.shtml; SCANFAX Year in Review, “Lee de Forest: Father of Radio Broadcasting and Receiving,” IEEE-Chicago Section: Chicago, Illinois, 2008, 13, http://www.ieeechicago.org/LinkClick.aspx?


pages: 238 words: 46

When Things Start to Think by Neil A. Gershenfeld

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3D printing, Ada Lovelace, Bretton Woods, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, Dynabook, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, invention of movable type, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, means of production, new economy, Nick Leeson, packet switching, RFID, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, the medium is the message, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush

While this may appear to be a perverse aim, it turns out that almost every property of engineered systems is improved when they work with effectively random signals (more people can share a communications channel with less interference, more data can be stored on a disk, and so forth). There is a beautiful theory for how to generate bits for use in spread spectrum that appear to be completely random but in fact are entirely predictable. A transmitter uses such a sequence to spread its signal and the receiver then uses an identical copy to recover the message (this idea can be traced back to the ac- 166 + WHEN THINGS START TO THINK tress Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil using piano rolls in World War II). This is what you hear when your modem hisses. The catch is that if the receiver is remote from the transmitter it has a difficult computing job to do to figure out the spreading sequence that the transmitter used. This is part of what a GPS receiver must do to lock onto a satellite and find its position. Two copies of almost any analog system, if allowed to interact in almost any way, have a very interesting property: they synchronize.


pages: 258 words: 77,601

Everything Under the Sun: Toward a Brighter Future on a Small Blue Planet by Ian Hanington

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Bretton Woods, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, energy security, Enrique Peñalosa, Exxon Valdez, Google Earth, happiness index / gross national happiness, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, hydraulic fracturing, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), oil shale / tar sands, stem cell, sustainable-tourism, the scientific method, University of East Anglia, urban planning, urban sprawl

If our leaders reject science, we really are in trouble. Sometimes it does take a rocket scientist... to take on Hollywood HEDY LAMARR WAS once regarded as the most beautiful woman in Hollywood. In 1933, she scandalously appeared nude in a Czech film called Ecstasy, which brought her to the attention of U.S. movie moguls. Through the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, she starred in some of Hollywood’s biggest hits alongside leading male celluloid idols like Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable. She was also a part-time rocket scientist. In fact, we have her to thank for some of the technology used in cellphones and the Internet. In 1940, Lamarr and avant-garde music composer George Antheil devised and patented a communications system based on “frequency hopping” for use in radio-guided torpedoes. Their invention was inspired by player piano rolls—spools of paper with holes that “told” automatic pianos which notes to play.


pages: 316 words: 90,165

You Are Here: From the Compass to GPS, the History and Future of How We Find Ourselves by Hiawatha Bray

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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Albert Einstein, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, British Empire, call centre, crowdsourcing, Dava Sobel, digital map, don't be evil, Edmond Halley, Edward Snowden, Firefox, game design, Google Earth, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Harrison: Longitude, John Snow's cholera map, license plate recognition, lone genius, openstreetmap, polynesian navigation, popular electronics, RAND corporation, RFID, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, trade route, turn-by-turn navigation, uranium enrichment, urban planning, V2 rocket, Zipcar

The idea was to build radio devices that used more than one frequency. Transmitter and receiver would regularly “hop” from one frequency to another with the aid of a synchronizing system to ensure that both were on the same wavelength at the same time. The legendary Nikola Tesla won a patent on the idea in 1903. Years later actress Hedy Lamarr secured a patent of her own. Under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Lamarr still found time to dabble in technical matters that had fascinated her since her abortive marriage to an Austrian arms merchant. She and a friend, film music composer George Antheil, designed a frequency-hopping system for radio-guided torpedoes to ensure they could not be defeated by enemy jamming signals.3 By the 1950s frequency-hopping or “spread-spectrum” radios were being deployed by the US armed forces. The technology was treated as a military secret until 1976.


pages: 494 words: 142,285

The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World by Lawrence Lessig

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AltaVista, Andy Kessler, barriers to entry, business process, Cass Sunstein, commoditize, computer age, creative destruction, dark matter, disintermediation, Donald Davies, Erik Brynjolfsson, George Gilder, Hacker Ethic, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, Howard Rheingold, Hush-A-Phone, HyperCard, hypertext link, Innovator's Dilemma, invention of hypertext, inventory management, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Larry Wall, Leonard Kleinrock, linked data, Marc Andreessen, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, packet switching, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, price mechanism, profit maximization, RAND corporation, rent control, rent-seeking, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, Richard Thaler, Robert Bork, Ronald Coase, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, smart grid, software patent, spectrum auction, Steve Crocker, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Chicago School, transaction costs, zero-sum game

In either case, smart receivers make it possible for many receivers to effectively share the same spectrum range. And through technologies that facilitate coordination—again, analogous to the technologies of Ethernet—this system would permit many receivers, and hence many broadcasters, to coordinate use of the same radio spectrum.23 The idea for this way of allocating spectrum reaches back to World War II, and to the work of actress Hedy Lamarr.24 Lamarr and her partner, George Antheil, were exploring ways for submarines to communicate without detection. They invented a system where a transmitter would hop along the radio spectrum—transmitting for a moment at one frequency, and then jumping at the next moment to another—while the receiver, knowing the pattern the transmitter would take, would tune to the different frequencies at precisely the right moment in time.