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The Bluetooth Name and History

Bluetooth is notable in the high-technology industry in several respects, but in particular its name garners much attention. Most new industry initiatives are known by a name that describes their associated technology or its application and often they quickly become known by an acronym describing the full name. Why wasn't the technology called, for example, "Short-Range Wireless Radio," or SRWR, or some other descriptive name? The answer lies in the heritage (and perhaps the whimsy) of the original inventors. There are numerous histories and accounts of the Bluetooth namesake and how that name came to be chosen; the generally accepted story and facts are cited here.

Harald Blåtand was King of Denmark from approximately A.D. 940 to 985. During his reign King Harald is reported to have united Denmark and Norway and to have brought Christianity to Scandinavia. Apparently "Blåtand" translates, at least loosely, to "Blue Tooth." The origins of this name are uncertain, although it was relatively common during this time for kings to have a distinguishing name. (Some histories say that the name is attributed to Harald's dark complexion; some accounts even indicate that King Harald was known for teeth of a bluish hue resulting from his fondness for blueberries, although this is probably folklore.) For a technology with its origins in Scandinavia, it seemed appropriate to the SIG founders to name the organization that was intended to unify multinational companies after a Scandinavian king who united countries. Thus was born the Bluetooth name, which initially was an unofficial code name for the project but today has become the trademark name (see footnote 1 on page 3) of the technology and the SIG. Figure 1–1 shows the Bluetooth logo, inspired by the initials "H B" for Harald Bluetooth.

Figure 1–1  The Bluetooth logo, a trademark owned by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, Inc., U.S.A.

Bluetooth wireless communication has engendered tremendous interest since the SIG's formation was announced. Articles in many leading computer-industry trade press publications and in quite a few of the mainstream media have appeared with some frequency. Many analysts such as the Cahners In-Stat Group and the Gartner Group DataQuest now include Bluetooth wireless communications in their studies and forecasts. Between November 1998 and June 2000 at least nine major Bluetooth developers conferences were held in cities including Atlanta, Tokyo, London, Amsterdam, Geneva, Los Angeles and Monte Carlo. The SIG-sponsored conference in December 2000 in Los Angeles attracted over 3,000 attendees, including developers, analysts, customers and others from diverse geographies and industries.

This is a sample from Bluetooth Revealed: The Insider's Guide to an Open Specification for Global Wireless Communications, 2nd edition (ISBN: 0-13-067237-8) from Prentice Hall. For the full text, visit http://www.phptr.com. ©2001 Pearson Education. All Rights Reserved.

1. Bluetooth is a trademark owned by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, Inc., U.S.A.

2. The Bluetooth Brand Book contains guidelines for the use of the term Bluetooth. To be consistent with those guidelines, we will henceforth use the term as an adjective, not as a standalone noun.

3. When it was 9:00 a.m. on the west coast of the United States, where many involved parties worked and lived, it often (depending upon daylight-saving time observance) was 7:00 p.m. in Finland and 2:00 a.m. the following morning in Japan).

4. In general, our references to the contents of the version 1.0 specification are applicable to any ofthe 1.x family of specifications (which, as of this writing, includes versions 1.0A, 1.0B, and 1.1).

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This article was originally published on July 25, 2002

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