Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: How We Invented the World

How the Sinking of the Titanic Led to Today's Cell Phone
New York Times

How We Invented the World (Discovery Channel, 9pm) - The cellphone episode begins on the Titanic, where the primitive state of radio communication contributed to the disaster: The ship could not send and receive at the same time, which led the Titanic’s wireless operator to tell the Californian, a nearby steamship that was warning of ice, to “shut up.”

The program examines how the outcry after the sinking led to technological improvements, then checks in on the actress Hedy Lamarr, who was also an inventor and came up with a way to stymie those who would eavesdrop on wireless communications, like the Nazis in World War II. 

Then we meet Martin Cooper, the Motorola executive who, trying to compete with the giant AT&T in the early 1970s, initiated the project that would produce the first cellphone.

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