When you hear the term “Bluetooth,” you might wonder how this technology got its name. Unlike other technologies with catchy acronyms, Bluetooth is named after a historical figure – King Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson. But what does a dead tooth have to do with wireless connectivity?

King Harald Bluetooth is known for two things: uniting Denmark and Norway in 958 and his dead tooth, which had a dark blue/grey color and earned him the nickname Bluetooth. Fast forward to 1996, three industry leaders – Intel, Ericsson, and Nokia – were discussing the standardization of short-range radio technology to support collaboration and connectivity between different products and industries. During this meeting, Jim Kardach from Intel suggested “Bluetooth” as a temporary code name.

Kardach explained that “King Harald Bluetooth was famous for uniting Scandinavia, just as we intended to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link.” Bluetooth was intended to be a placeholder until marketing could come up with a more creative name. However, as it turned out, the name Bluetooth caught on and became synonymous with short-range wireless technology.

When it came time to choose a serious name, Bluetooth was supposed to be replaced with either RadioWire or PAN (Personal Area Networking). PAN was the front runner, but an extensive search found that it already had tens of thousands of hits throughout the internet. A full trademark search on RadioWire could not be completed in time for launch, making Bluetooth the only choice.

In conclusion, Bluetooth technology owes its name to a historical figure and his blue-grey tooth. Though it was initially meant as a temporary code name, Bluetooth became so popular that it stuck around and became the go-to name for short-range wireless technology. So the next time you connect your smartphone to a Bluetooth speaker, remember the man behind the tooth who inspired this revolutionary technology.

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