The story of Heidi Lamarr and Bluetooth

"Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid." -Heidi Lamarr


Adam Grant , 37 years old,  "has been Wharton’s top-rated professor for seven straight years. He is a leading expert on how we can find motivation and meaning, and live more generous and creative lives. He has been recognized as one of the world's 10 most influential management thinkers and Fortune's 40 under 40."

But even he gets criticized.
"I don't know very many people who enjoy getting criticized," 
"It's something that we're all terrified of, or that we at least know we've gotten defensive and it hasn't gone well when other people have given us negative feedback.
"But if you look at the data, one of the biggest drivers of success, if you account for how motivated you are and you know how talented you are, is your ability to seek and use negative feedback," says Grant. "Because that really determines how close to your potential you become.
It is not only you being criticized. It can be your company, your product, your services or anything that's associated with you.


To understand the culture of a company before you join, ask people to tell you stories about things that happen there but wouldn't elsewhere. Then see what the common themes reveal about how much safety, fairness, and control people have.
This refers to a company I want to join because for us happiness is more important that a formal job description. Other questions will be then

  1. Tell me stories about things that happen with your technology that wouldn't happen elsewhere?
  2. Tell me stories about things that happen with your product that wouldn't happen elsewhere?
  3. Tell me stories about things that happen with your customers  that wouldn't happen elsewhere?
  4. ....
Your prospects considering your company  they also seek happiness. They want beautiful stories

The Boring Story of Bluetooth 

For illustration sake, Bluetooth is a household name used widely to connect devices. 
The development of the "short-link" radio technology, later named Bluetooth, was initiated in 1989 by Nils Rydbeck, CTO at Ericsson Mobile in Lund, Sweden and by Johan Ullman. The purpose was to develop wireless headsets, according to two inventions by Johan Ullman, SE 8902098-6, issued 1989-06-12 and SE 9202239, issued 1992-07-24. Nils Rydbeck tasked Tord Wingren with specifying and Jaap Haartsen and Sven Mattisson with developing. Both were working for Ericsson in Lund.[5] Invented by Dutch electrical engineer Jaap Haartsen, working for telecommunications company Ericsson in 1994.
This text is accurate, yet there is no pzazz, no Aha! and ultimately a reader does not know how Bluetooth works 

 It  uses another technology called Frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS). The entry in Wikipedia says
  • This article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject. (January 2013)
  • This article may be too technical for most readers to understand

The Unique  Story of Bluetooth 

Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler was a model and actress  from Austria. She starred in a  very controversial movie, Ecstasy, where she appeared (in 1933) topless. The movies was banned in Nazi  Germany and in United States 

She married the third richest man in Austria,  Friedrich Mandl an arms industrialist . 

Lamarr accompanied Mandl to business meetings, where he conferred with scientists and other professionals involved in military technology. These conferences were her introduction to the field of science and nurtured her latent and unexpected talent. Lamarr never studied formally science.

She left her autocratic husband She writes about her marriage:
I knew very soon that I could never be an actress while I was his wife. ... He was the absolute monarch in his marriage. ... I was like a doll.  I was like a thing, some object of art which had to be guarded—and imprisoned—having no mind, no life of its own
She meets in London  the American movie mogul Louis B. Mayer of MGM who was searching Europe  for talent. He offered her 125 dollars a week, She refused. She traveled on the same liner as Mayer and finally got a $500 offer a week.

In 1933 she became a naturalized US citizen and changed her name to Heidi Lamarr. She sold bonds  during the war
Lamarr wanted to join the National Inventors Council, but was reportedly told by NIC member Charles F. Kettering and others that she could better help the war effort by using her celebrity status to sell war bonds.
She participated in a war bond-selling campaign with a sailor named Eddie Rhodes. Rhodes was in the crowd at each Lamarr appearance, and she would call him up on stage. She would briefly flirt with him before asking the audience if she should give him a kiss. The crowd would say yes, to which Heidi would reply that she would if enough people bought war bonds. After enough bonds were purchased, she would kiss Rhodes and he would head back into the audience. Then they would head off to the next war bond rally.
She had six husbands, six divorces  three children and passed away on January 2000 at the age 85 in Florida

Heidi Lamarr the inventor

 Although Lamarr had no formal training and was primarily self-taught, she worked in her spare time on various hobbies and inventions,
She set aside a whole room in her house dedicated to inventing, complete with a drafting table, proper light and an entire wall of engineering reference books. She created a new traffic signal, an improved tissue box, an aid to help the disabled get in and out of the bath, a fluorescent dog collar and a cube that would turn water into soda after it dissolved. None of these were nearly as successful or influential as spread spectrum technology.
During World War II, Lamarr learned that radio-controlled torpedoes, an emerging technology in naval war, could easily be jammed and set off course. She thought of creating a frequency-hopping signal that could not be tracked or jammed.

 She contacted her friend, composer and pianist George Antheil, to help her develop a device for doing that, and he succeeded by synchronizing a miniaturized player-piano mechanism with radio signals. They drafted designs for the frequency-hopping system, which they patented. Antheil recalled:
We began talking about the war, which, in the late summer of 1940, was looking most extremely black. Heidi said that she did not feel very comfortable, sitting there in Hollywood and making lots of money when things were in such a state. She said that she knew a good deal about munitions and various secret weapons ... and that she was thinking seriously of quitting MGM and going to Washington, DC, to offer her services to the newly established Inventors' Council.
Their invention was granted a patent under US Patent 2,292,387 on August 11, 1942 (filed using her married name Heidi Kiesler Markey). However, it was technologically difficult to implement, and at that time the U.S. Navy was not receptive to considering inventions coming from outside the military. In 1962, (at the time of the Cuban missile crisis), an updated version of their design at last appeared on Navy ships.
 In 1997, Lamarr and Antheil received the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award and the Bulbie Gnass Spirit of Achievement Bronze Award, given to individuals whose creative lifetime achievements in the arts, sciences, business, or invention fields have significantly contributed to society. Lamarr was featured on the Science Channel and the Discovery Channel. In 2014, Lamarr and Antheil were posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

What does it mean for Bluetooth

Bluetooth is something that makes me exclaim: Gee, why didn't I think of it before?  What you buy is something people tried to deliver for a century. until Ericsson's Nordic perseverance and belief in unbreakable technology made it happen. 

This is the answer to Adam Grant clever question:

"Tell me stories about things that happen with your technology that wouldn't happen elsewhere."


Ashini perera said…
This article is awesome, I'm searching to buy a Bluetooth beanie and found this page.

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