Origin of the Bluetooth Name

The story behind how Bluetooth got its name.

We all recognize the name Bluetooth. It’s synonymous with wireless technology, and we take for granted how much it impacts our lives. From smartphones to headphones and beyond, we rely on Bluetooth to free us from the tether of wired tech.

The Man Behind the Tooth

For how innovative the technology, the name doesn’t sound techie. It’s not an acronym and doesn’t stand for anything. So what does it mean?

Surprisingly, the name dates back more than a millennia to King Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson who was well known for two things:

  • Uniting Denmark and Norway in 958.
  • His dead tooth, which was a dark blue/grey color, and earned him the nickname Bluetooth.

Code for Collaboration

In 1996, three industry leaders, Intel, Ericsson, and Nokia, met to plan the standardization of this short-range radio technology to support connectivity and collaboration between different products and industries.

During this meeting, Jim Kardash from Intel suggested Bluetooth as a temporary code name. Kardash was later quoted as saying, "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 only intended as a placeholder until marketing could come up with something really cool.

The One and Only

Later, when it came time to select a serious name, Bluetooth was to be replaced with either RadioWire or PAN (Personal Area Networking). PAN was the front runner, but an exhaustive search discovered it already had tens of thousands of hits throughout the internet.

A full trademark search on RadioWire couldn’t be completed in time for launch, making Bluetooth the only choice. The name caught on fast and before it could be changed, it spread throughout the industry, becoming synonymous with short-range wireless technology.

The ‘initial’ Bluetooth Logo

The Bluetooth logo is a bind rune merging the Younger Futhark runes (Hagall) (ᚼ) and (Bjarkan) (ᛒ), Harald's initials.