2011 Legends and Living Legacy Awards
Legend: Hedy Lamarr
Actress and co-inventor of frequency hopping, which is used in cell phones today.
Hedy Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna in 1914. Though most famous for her extraordinary beauty and celebrity as a famous actress, Lamarr was also an inventor and scientist who
co-invented an early technique for spread-spectrum communications as a way to help during WWII.
Lamarr began her career in Hollywood, after acting in Czechoslovak and German films, in 1937 when she was signed with MGM and officially changed her name. Some of her most famous roles include Ziegfeld Girl (1941) and Samson and Delilah (1949).
During WWII, Lamarr and American composer George Antheil decided they wanted to contribute to the war effort and created a sophisticated, anti-jamming device for use in radio-controlled torpedoes. Although their invention was not picked up during WWII, it proved crucial to the U.S. military during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Most notably, though, the invention served as the foundation for modern spread-spectrum communication technology used today in WiFi and wireless telephones.
In 1997 they received the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award and the BULBIE™ Gnass Spirit of Achievement Bronze Award (considered the Oscar of the inventing world), given to individuals whose creative lifetime achievements have significantly contributed to society. Lamarr was the first woman to receive the BULBIE™.
Few people realize that Lamarr invented a technology that saved lives, and continues to facilitate the most prevalent modes of
communication used today.
Legacy: Marissa Mayer
Marissa Mayer received the Hedy Lamarr Living Legacy Award for her achievements in telecommunications and technology.
Marissa Mayer is the Vice President of Local, Maps, and Location Services at Google. She oversees product management, engineering, design and strategy for the company’s suite of local and geographical products, including Google Maps, Google Earth, Zagat, Street View, and local search, for desktop and mobile use.
During her 12 years at Google, Marissa has held numerous positions, including engineer, designer, product manager, and executive, and has launched over 100 well-known features and products. Marissa led the development of some of Google’s most successful services including image, book and product search, toolbar, and iGoogle, and defined such pivotal products as Google News and Gmail. She is listed as an inventor on several patents in artificial intelligence and interface design.
Prior to joining Google, Marissa worked at the UBS research lab in Zurich, Switzerland and at SRI International in Menlo Park, California. She graduated with honors from Stanford University with a BS in Symbolic Systems and a MS in Computer Science.
With all these successful projects to her name, it is not surprising to know she has been on Fortune magazine’s annual Most Powerful Women’s list for the past three years, and is the youngest person to
ever do so. Mayer’s genius is reminiscent of the genius of Hedy Lamarr, another trailblazer whose work has transcended time to impact the way we live our lives in the 21st century.