Bluetooth hardly sounds hightech — it sounds more like a pirate or perhaps a feared dental condition; nevertheless, the name “Bluetooth” is well entrenched in the world of technology, defining a secure personal area network that can connect several devices over short distances. The technology was created by Ericsson, a Swedish telecommunications and data company, from 1994 to 1996 and is managed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) with more than 16,000 technology companies as members adhering to established specifications.
The name of the technology was the result of an unintended process of elimination. In an article in EE Times, Jim Kardach, an Intel engineer, explains how he originally proposed “Bluetooth” simply as a codename for the project in December of 1996: “Bluetooth was borrowed from the 10th century, second King of Denmark, King Harald Bluetooth (King Harald I of Denmark) who was famous for uniting Scandinavia just as we (Intel, Ericsson, and Nokia) intended to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link.” Kardach was introduced to the story of King Harald by a colleague who had read the book Longships by Frans Bengtsson. Fascinated by the story, Kardach researched the Danish king further in the book, The Vikings, by Gwyn Jones. Kardach writes: “Thumbing through the book, I found a picture of a giant rock, or runic stone, which depicted the chivalry of Harald Bluetooth. King Harald had this memorial made for Gorm his father and Thyri his mother. It was Harald that had united Denmark and Christianized the Danes. It occurred to me that this would make a good codename for the program.”