Innovators and Inventors, Tesla and Lamarr: Makers of Modern Life

Keene Chautauqua 2019 features performances of two inventors, Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) and Hedy Lamarr (1914–2000), by living history presenters Douglas Mishler and Judith Kalaora.

Despite more than 700 inventions and 100 patents in his lifetime, Tesla was never financially successful, but he was prescient. Tesla imagined not only the practical applications of his inventions, but how his designs could change the future. One of his predictions was “the acquisition of new fields of endeavor by women,” which would be made possible by interconnectivity, empowerment and through the future of wireless technology.

Near the end of Tesla’s life, Austrian-born actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr would receive her only patent for frequency hopping, a method of transmitting radio signals by rapidly switching a carrier among many frequency channels. This invention paved the way for modern wireless technology. She kept inventing in old age: from a fluorescent dog collar, to modifications for the supersonic Concorde airliner, to a new kind of stoplight.

This evening of living history caps a series of Keene Public Library summer programs exploring the lives of Tesla and Lamarr and the topic of innovation and invention. This series of programming includes film showings, Ted Talk discussions, and book discussions on Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, The Most Beautiful Woman in the World by Richard Rhodes and Tesla, Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney. 

Pre-show music begins at 6:00 pm with Chautauqua performances starting at 6:30 pm.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, go to