Tag: Inventors

Do You Have Lamarr in Your Car?

 

It has been suggested that the short-range wireless protocol known as Bluetooth should instead have been called Lamarr, in honor of the actress/inventor Hedy Lamar.

Hedy (maiden name Kiesler) was born in Vienna in 1914. From her early childhood, she was fascinated by acting–and she was also very interested in how things worked, an interest which was encouraged by her bank-director father. She began acting professionally in the late 1920s, and gained fame and notoriety when she appeared–briefly nude–in the film Ecstasy.  It was followed by the more respectable Sissy, in which she played the Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

In 1933, Hedy married the arms manufacturer Friedrich Mandl, finding him charming and fascinating and also probably influenced by his vast wealth. She was soon turned off by his Fascist connections and his extremely controlling nature–rather ridiculously, he even tried to buy up all copies and negatives of Ecstasy.  He did not allow her to pursue her acting career but did require her to participate, mainly as eye-candy, in high-level meetings with German and Italian political leaders and with people involved in military technology. What she heard at these sessions both interested and alarmed her.

Bakelite: The Beginnings of the Plastics Era

 

About 110 years ago, the plastics era (as we understand that term) began with a material called Bakelite named by its creator and inventor Leo Baekeland.

Leo Hendrick Baekeland was born on November 14, 1863, in Ghent, Belgium, to Karel and Rosalia Baekeland. His father was a cobbler while his mother worked as a housemaid. He was a bright young man who, encouraged primarily by his mother, read anything he could get his hands on.

Leo Hendrick Baekeland.

Delayed Innovation

 

Sometimes the best thing that can happen to an inventor is for him to be ignored.

Take for example German archery enthusiast Jörg Sprave. He pitched his bow designs to manufacturers for years. None purchased his plans. But Sprave did not idly wait for broader success. He continued to iterate until building something he wished he had thought of years ago. 

American Inventors

 

Edwin Armstrong on the beach with his wife and his portable superheterodyne radio 1923

Yesterday, @richardeaston wrote a post Affirmative Action in Inventions in which he noted that in recent years a black female, Dr. Gladys West, has been given credit for inventions associated with GPS for which the credit belongs to others. I was going to comment on Richard’s post; but, my comment got too long and I think this post can stand on its own.