Hedy’s Folly


I bought this book secondhand in May 2015, partly because of my interest in George Antheil, though also because of the spread-spectrum system developed with Hedy Lamar whom I remember in some movies. I was intrigued. After reading it I thought I should write something about it because the story is fascinating, but the book was left on one side and then submerged by other books.

Thank you Brooklyn Public Library for throwing out the book – for my benefit. This is one of several books I have that, sadly, have been discarded by public libraries.

Hedy's Folly cover
Hedy’s Folly cover

Hedy's Folly back
Hedy’s Folly back

What fascinated me most was the mix of two unusual people in arts & entertainment who did some lateral thinking in science/technology to come up with frequency-hopping radar. Antheil was in some ways a technologist musician; his Ballet Mécanique is for mechanical instruments. They parallel pianist Joseph Hoffman who had over 70 patents on inventions from improvements to the piano key mechanism to compressed air pneumatic shock absorbers for cars. The current message is that you need certification in an area of study to come up with new ideas; this can be a self-fulfilling argument.