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What is the Bluetooth technology name origin?


01.22.13 Posted in Naming blog by

People may be wondering whether someone actually had blue teeth. Well, surprisingly, although a bit silly, the assumption is correct. Or so the legend says.

bluetooth technology name origin

Bluetooth is a wireless technology that we use in our everyday life. It serves to connect various devices, including mobile phones, computers, laptops, tablets, printers and so on. We have gotten so used to it that people seldom ask themselves how the weird name originated. But seriously – who would name the most important piece of work in their lives after a blue tooth? Simple answer – Scandinavian guys would. However, there is a story behind it.

Back in 1994 when Bluetooth was still a project two guys from Intel and Ericsson, Jim Kardach and Sven Mathesson, were presenting the technology proposal in Toronto. The rejection of the project was followed by a pub crawl. Well, believe it or not, some people actually discuss intelligent things on a pub crawl. The topic was history of the two countries, but so it happened that the Swedish guy wasn’t very familiar with his country’s history,and he recalled a story he recently had read in a book. The story in The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson was about Harald I of Denmark. He was a Scandinavian ruler (pronounced king by his son) who lived in the 10th century AD. He is well-known for during his reign unruly kingdoms were united and the population – converted to Christianity. During his live he ruled over Dnmark and Norway and is famous for unifying the lands. King Harald was also known by another name – Harald Bluetooth.

harald i of denmark name origin

A couple of years later, a few companies got together to decide the future of the technology – these were Intel, Ericsson, Nokia, Toshiba. A name was needed for this product as the projects of the companies all bore different acronyms for names. It was then when Jim Kardach came up with the name Bluetooth for the technology. It served to show that their product is uniting different communications protocols into one universal standard the same way Harald Bluetooth unified the Scandinavian lands. And as you know, the name still sticks. The story about the Bluetooth technology name origin was told in an article by Jim Kardach in 2008.

As for Harald Bluetooth’s strange name – Anglo-Saxons and Vikings did not have surnames but patronyms or nicknames. According to wiki the legend says that Harald I enjoyed eating blueberries which stained his teeth blue.

Educational story, isn’t it? :)



2 Responses to “What is the Bluetooth technology name origin?”

  1. CB Du Rietz says:

    Actually, in Old Scandinavian, there was no linguistic difference between blue and black. Thus – the story goes – Harald had a dead tooth that had turned black (or blue, as the word was back then).

    In much the same way, North Africa was called ‘Blåland’ (= ‘blueland’) and african people were called ‘blåmän’ (= ‘bluemen’).

    As late as the ’70s when I grew up, the derogatory term ‘blåneger’ (= ‘blue nigger’) was sometimes used when speaking of really dark skinned african people.

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