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Why is Bluetooth Called Bluetooth? (Hint: Vikings!)

Bluetooth's odd name harkens back to Swedish telecommunication company Ericsson's Viking heritage

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Photo: Baldbrad

Ever wonder how the handy Bluetooth acquired its odd name? Not surprisingly, it had nothing to do with teeth or being blue. Rather, the name harkens back to Swedish telecommunication company Ericsson’s Viking heritage.

Bluetooth creates a secure means of exchanging wireless data amongst several different devices. Pondering this service, its predominantly Scandinavian creators recalled the legend of Danish viking king Harald Blåtand. According to lore, Blåtand had an uncanny ability to bring people together in non-violent negotiations. His way with words and communication went so far as uniting Denmark and Norway as a single territory. The English translation of  Blåtand - you guessed it – is blue-tooth.

Jim Kardach, one of the founders of Bluetooth SIG, explains the story in a blog on Tech History:

Harald had united Denmark and Christianized the Danes! It occurred to me that this would make a good codename for the program. At this time I also created a PowerPoint foil with a version of the Runic stone where Harald held a cellphone in one hand and a notebook in the other and with a translation of the runes:

“Harald united Denmark and Norway”

“Harald thinks that mobile PC’s and cellular phones should seamlessly communicate”

The name stuck, and Bluetooth’s modern day symbol depicts Blåtand’s initials inscribed in Runic symbols, Did You Wonder explains.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Raiders or Traders? 

A Viking Mystery 

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