George Antheil

Avant-garde composer, pianist, author, and inventor whose modernist musical compositions explored the modern sounds – musical, industrial, and mechanical – of the early 20th century.

Spending much of the 1920s in Europe, Antheil returned to the US in the 1930s, and thereafter spent much of his time composing music for films, and eventually, television. As a result of this work, his style became more tonal. A man of diverse interests and talents, Antheil was constantly reinventing himself. He wrote magazine articles (one accurately predicted the development and outcome of World War II), an autobiography, a mystery novel, and newspaper and music columns.

In 1941, Antheil and the actress Hedy Lamar developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes that used a code (stored on a punched paper tape) to synchronize random frequencies, referred to as frequency hopping, with a receiver and transmitter. This technique is now known as spread spectrum and is widely used in telecommunications. This work led to their being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

Books in order of publication:

Death In the Dark, a crime novel edited and published by T. S. Eliot (1930)

Every Man His Own Detective: A Study of Glandular Criminology, New York City: Stackpole Sons (1937)

Bad Boy of Music, Garden City, New York: Doubleday (1945; various reprints and languages)

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