Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Me & Hedy Lamarr

With the new Richard Rhodes book about Hedy Lamarr's inventions it occurred to me that there's a very good chance I might be responsible for this being better known. What happened is that sometime around 1995 or 96 I was doing freelance writing and research for Turner Classic Movies. Unconnected to this I had been skimming through Nicolas Slonimsky's Music Since 1900, a fascinating compendium of events, news items, performances, etc in chronological order, thousands and thousands of them and with an eye for the odd and eccentric. Somewhere in there I ran across a bit about Lamarr's patent, included because of George Antheil's involvement. So I photocopied the info, passed it along to the TCM people and soon afterwards this was being used in some of the on-air segments surrounding the films. From there obviously many people heard about this and several years later I noticed more mentions of Lamarr's patent. (Poor Antheil tends to be overlooked.) The information wasn't completely unknown of course. There was a piece in 1990 from Forbes apparently (Google Books is unclear about the original source) and at least some engineers had been using the idea since the 80s according to another book. But otherwise there seem to be very few references before the end of the 90s so I might as well take some credit for this.

Someday I should mention the band I designed a logo for, one that they're still using, but never received any credit for that.