Why is Bluetooth called Bluetooth?

Have you ever wondered where the name Bluetooth came from? And why does it have that strange logo, and what does all this even have to do with the Viking age anyway? That is exactly what I will answer in this article.

Where does the phrase Bluetooth come from?

Okay, let me start by explaining what Bluetooth is and how it got its name. In 1996 many tech companies were working on a new technology called short-range radio links. But the problem was that they all had created their own standard for it, for example, Intel called it Business-RF and Ericsson called it MC-Link.

The companies realized that they needed to work together and create a single short-range radio standard, instead of having multiple competing standards. So the companies created a Special Interest Group (SIG) and held a meeting in Lund, at the Ericsson plant in Sweden. Here the companies came to an agreement on working together and the Special Interest Group (SIG) was formed.

An employee from Intel proposed that the technology should be given the codename Bluetooth, until SIG’s marketing group, came up with a better name for the technology. The history of the word Bluetooth has its roots in the Viking age, and Jim Kardach from Intel got the idea from the book the Longships by Frans G. Bengtsson and The Vikings by Gwyn Jones.

The marketing group made a suggestion to call it (PAN) short for ”Personal area network”, but it was found too difficult to trademark, and therefore Bluetooth remained the name for short-range radio link technology, and the name Bluetooth was officially adopted and trademarked in 1998.

Why was Bluetooth invented?

This technology was invented so devices would be able to exchange data wirelessly between them, which would end up paving the way for many of the modern devices we use today on a daily basis.

When did Bluetooth get released?

In 1999 the Bluetooth 1.0 Specification was released, and already the following year, the first devises using this technology was being sold in the stores. Some of the first devices that used Bluetooth was mobile phones, PC cards, computer mouses, laptops, and headsets.

Who was Harald Bluetooth?

But who was this Bluetooth? Well, Bluetooth was the nickname of a Danish King named Harald Gormsson who lived in the middle of the 10 century in Denmark. He is credited to be the one who unified the Danes into one Kingdom and made them Christians, which can be seen on the Jelling stone.

Photo: Greger Ravik

Why was he called Bluetooth?

There are many rumors and speculations why Harald was given the nickname Bluetooth. Some people claim it was because he had a bad tooth, others say he loved to eat blueberries or licorice. It might come as a surprise to you, but none of those statements are actually true. In fact, we do not know how Harald Bluetooth got his nickname, but we have sources that mention him by that name.

The first mention of Harald Bluetooth is in the 11 century about 200 years after his death. In the Roskilde Chronicle (In Danish Roskildekrøniken) written by an unknown author. It was the first attempt at writing down the history of Denmark, from 826 to 1157.

It was originally written down in Latin (Chronicon Roskildense), but it was later translated into other languages such as English and Danish. The original manuscript has been lost and the Roskilde Chronicle now only exists in copies. It is highly likely that the Roskilde Chronicle was written by a Monk since it was written in Latin.

However Harald could have had the nickname Bluetooth, and maybe that is how the people referred to him, went they sat at night telling stories about the great Kings of Denmark. The name probably survived in oral history, before it was written down centuries later.

Where does the Bluetooth symbol come from?

The Bluetooth symbol has just as its name its roots in the Viking age. The Bluetooth symbol/logo is a combination of two runes from the younger futhark, which was the runic alphabet that the Vikings used in the Viking age.

They used the initials of Harald Bluetooth, to create what is called a bindrune, by merging his two initials together. The new rune (bind rune) consists of the letter H (ᚼ) and the letter B (ᛒ). ᚼ is known as the hagall rune, and ᛒ is the bjarkan rune. Creating a bind rune was something that was practiced in the Viking age, but it was very rare.

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