What is the origin of the name Bluetooth?

Did you know that Denmark had Bluetooth 1,000 years ago? Well . . . not quite as we know today. The origin of the name Bluetooth comes from a Viking king who ruled Denmark and Norway from 958CE to 985CE.

by Ciarán Donnelly

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is a wireless technology that allows mobiles to communicate with computers over short distances using UHF (Ultra High Frequency) radio waves.

What is the origin of the name Bluetooth?

Harald ‘Blåtand’ Gormsson was born in Jelling, Denmark, in 911CE. He was the son of the King of Denmark, Gorm the Old.

His nickname Blåtand is translated into English as ‘Bluetooth’. He had a blue/grey colour tooth and was hence called Harold Bluetooth.

There are 2 different theories on why Harald’s tooth had turned into this colour:

  1. This first is that he at a lot of blueberries and these eventually stained his teeth.
  2. The second is that he had a dead tooth and this has discoloured into a blue/black colour.

However, this is not the main reason why people still remember Harold Bluetooth.

Who was Harold Bluetooth?

Bluetooth Name Origin Bestow Education

Harold Bluetooth’s main achievement was that he managed to successfully unite parts of Denmark and Norway into one nation. Additionally, he played an instrumental role in converting the Danes to Christianity.

Why was Bluetooth named after Harald ‘Blåtand’ Gormsson?

In 1996, Jim Kardach was an employee of Intel and was reading about Harold Bluetooth in Frans G. Bengtsson’s novel The Long Ships. Importantly, he was also part of the team that was developing Bluetooth technology. He came up with this code name for the project and is quoted as saying:

‘King Harald Bluetooth . . . was famous for uniting Scandinavia just as we intended to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link’

It was a clever comparison and when it came to launch the technology, the name ended up sticking.

The Bluetooth logo is also heavily influenced by Harald Bluetooth. It is not just the letter b in a quirky font.

The runic alphabet is an alphabet that was used for the writing of Germanic languages. Scandinavian Vikings used this alphabet and they believed that combining 2 or more letters into one letter/rune, it created a more powerful rune. This was called a bind rune.

The Bluetooth logo is a bind rune of Hagall (ᚼ) and Bjarkan (ᛒ), Harald Bluetooth’s initials.

Bluetooth Logo Origin Bestow Education

Conclusion

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Further reading

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