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In this updated (2013) edition you are welcomed to a world of secret communication, arms trading, mobile phones, film stars, piano players, nudity in the woods and one of the most unusual sources of revolutionary new technologies ever. This is the story of the birth of a new communication technique called spread spectrum and how it has evolved to impact our lives today. It is also the story of a forgotten patent and its two unlikely inventors.

Spread spectrum is a technology that was first developed to provide secret radio links - mostly for the military. More recently it has found many other uses. You are, in all probability, already using this stuff when you make a cordless phone call or when your PC is wirelessly connected to a network, or simply when you use your mobile to make a call or access the Internet. This book tells the tale of spread spectrum: what it is, where it came from, and how it is used today.

Hedy Lamarr was lauded by Hollywood as the most beautiful girl in the world. She made a whole series of films starring with the big names of the forties. Yet behind all of this, behind a face that launched many young boys into manhood and enslaved many an older man, lay an inventive and fertile brain. Miss Lamarr was the first woman to appear naked on the silver screen. She was also, with George Antheil, one of the first to patent a technology which has shown itself to be an essential solution to secret communication via radio and to the sharing of increasingly busy radio channels.

George Antheil was the self-named "bad boy of music." Born at the beginning of the twentieth century he played his piano all the way to Paris and there became the darling of the avant-garde. He composed music that shocked and amazed. His Ballet Mecanique is written for a host of mechanical pianos, accompanied by electric bells and a propeller - it caused riots. He became an expert on glands and wrote a book which predicted the course of the second world war.

Hedy and George's idea, first patented in 1942, was initially shunned. Yet, in the decades that followed, the basic principle was reinvented, refined and put to practical use in all manner of radio solutions, solutions that the inventors could never have imagined. The technique that they described is now called frequency hopping. It was before its time in the 1940s, but now has pride of place in a whole family of related solutions that are generally called - spread spectrum.

Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil lived interesting and varied lives. This book explains the phenomenal breakthrough that they achieved, and how they have added a touch of glamour to a whole new branch of communication technology. Surrounding it all is a mystery: just how did a successful Hollywood film star and a prolific composer, each with no technical background whatsoever, come to invent something so important? Why was the patent ignored for so long, and why did Hedy fail to mention it in her autobiography? Through all of this the book reveals the real story behind the origins of spread spectrum.

Hedy and George did not benefit from their invention. But their seminal work is now becoming widely recognised. Their contribution is celebrated in this book, the first to explain the significance of spread spectrum in non-technical terms. This is also the first book to take a close look at the lives of both inventors, to unravel the threads that drew them together and remove some of the mystery that surrounds the discovery.

The book is written by someone who has the necessary background and ability to take on such a varied and challenging project. It was updated in 2013 to include some information on the fourth generation of mobile and to put the spread spectrum developments into historic perspective.

Published: Rob Walters on
ISBN: 9781301602797
List price: $4.99
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