Hedy Lamarr, Inventor of the WiFi Precursor
Hedy Lamarr first became known as a star of the screen, earning acclaim for various European and American movie roles throughout the 1930s and '40s, but she was much more than just a pretty face.
In 1942, Lamarr developed and patented the idea for a radio signaling device with her friend composer George Antheil. The "secret communications system" they invented allowed for simultaneously changing radio frequencies that were meant to prevent the Nazis from decoding messages transmitted by US radio-controlled missiles during World War II. This frequency-hopping, spread-spectrum technology later became the basis for all wireless communication, including GPS, military communications, and cellular phones. Sadly, Lamarr did not receive her due credit for the technology she helped to create and, having quietly granted the patent to the US Navy, she died in 2000 without ever making a penny off of her invention.