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Why is Bluetooth called that and what does the sign mean?

What does today’s Bluetooth standard actually have to do with the Vikings? And how did the famous logo come about? An excursion into (technological) history.

The history of Bluetooth begins in the 10th century AD. We are in Scandinavia, more precisely in Denmark. Christianization is in full swing and is causing turmoil among the nations. Denmark and Norway are at war over this. At this time, we write the year 958, King Harald Gormsson reigns in Denmark. He wants to put an end to the war between the two countries. A mammoth task at the time.

But King Harald Gormsson showed enormous negotiating skills and actually managed in 958 to pacify parts of Denmark and Norway and bring them under his governmental power.

This medieval story was remembered in 1996 by representatives of the three leading mobile communications companies at the time, Ericsson, Intel and Nokia. At that time, there were various efforts in the industry to connect devices via radio technology over short distances. An industry standard was to be developed for this purpose.

Code name: Bluetooth

The meetings were, of course, held in strict secrecy. Competitors in the mobile communications sector were not to hear about the talks. After all, the three companies sensed a good deal if a technical breakthrough in wireless transmission were to succeed.

An Intel representative, Jim Kardach, is said to have suggested a code name for the joint project at the time. This was Bluetooth. At this early stage, however, this name only served as a placeholder.

How did Jim Kardach come up with the name? When asked about this, the Intel man said: “The Danish King Harald ‘Bluetooth’ has gone down in history for having united Scandinavia. Likewise, we intend to unite the PC and cellular industries with short-range wireless connectivity.”

A royal placeholder makes history

To understand the name “Bluetooth” a little better, we need to look back again to 958, the time when King Harald reigned in Denmark. For the regent actually bore the epithet “Blauzahn” – in English: Bluetooth. However, historians still disagree about the origin of this epithet.

The most likely theory is that King Harald of Denmark’s front row of teeth was “decorated” by a number of dead teeth. Dental hygiene certainly played little role in the Middle Ages. Therefore, it was not unusual for people to display their dark blue, dead teeth, as King Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson of Denmark probably did.

A little more than 1,000 years later, three companies chose the code name “Bluetooth” with a royal past as a placeholder for a new industry standard in wireless data transmission.

As the project took on more concrete form, names such as RadioWire or Personal Area Networking (PAN) circulated. PAN was considered the favorite for a long time. However, a name search revealed that there were already too many entries for these three letters. However, the new industry standard should have an unmistakable name.

So the royal placeholder became a brand name that is known all over the world. And Bluetooth technology still plays a significant role today when it comes to the uncomplicated transfer of data between different devices.

Bluetooth – medieval even when it comes to the logo

A good brand story not only defines a distinctive name, but also continues the story behind the story in the brand logo.

The characters “Hagall” and “Bjarkan” make up the Bluetooth logo today Photo: atechbook

The Bluetooth sign combines two Germanic runes, namely “Hagall” – ᚼ – and “Bjarkan” – ᛒ – the initials of King Harald “Blauzahn/Bluetooth” of Denmark. The resulting logo is now known all over the world.


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