Saturday, April 20, 2024

Why is a widely used app named for a tenth century Scandinavian king?

Your smartphone, like mine, likely has the logo at left on it somewhere. I knew that "Bluetooth" was the name given to an ancient Scandinavian king, but had no clue why the app was named for him. Now, thanks to Rick Spilman in The Old Salt Blog, I know the reason. 

The logo is the Viking rune of King Harald "Blåtand" Gormsson, "Blåtand" is "Bluetooth" in English. The rune is a "bindrune" that combines the runes for "H" and "B." Bluetooth was a Danish king (940-981) who united Denmark with Norway. According to Spilman, an engineer who was heavily involved in developing the technology that became Bluetooth, Jim Kardach, was responsible for giving it that name. Spilman gives a helpful link to an article by Kardach that explains the history. It's a long, complex, but amusing story, including an account of "a pub crawl through wintrily [sic], blustery Toronto." Kardach sums it up as follows: 
When asked about the name Bluetooth, I explained that Bluetooth was borrowed from the 10th century, second King of Denmark, King Harald Bluetooth; who was famous for uniting Scandinavia just as we intended to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link.

So, sometime soon, I will raise a glass of Aquavit and toast Harald Bluetooth, who inspired my ability to play WQXR on my stereo sound system from my smartphone.



  1. Claude:

    You do know I write at Angry Bear Blog? Yes? This post of yours will be up and Angry tomorrow morning. I liked it. That is where have been for the last 10-15 years.



    1. Bill, I didn't know you were writing for Angry Bear. I just gave it a look and saw my post there. Thanks! Good to hear from you; I hope all's well.