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What Do the Vikings Have to Do with Wireless Technology?

By Kevin Hellyer
Updated May 16, 2024
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Bluetooth has become synonymous with wireless technology, but have you ever wondered where it got its unique name and logo?

As the story goes, during development in 1996, techies from Intel, Ericsson, and Nokia met to discuss standardization issues for the industries and products that might use the new connectivity standard in the future. Before the marketing team got involved to come up with a catchy new name, the developers needed a code name for the technology. Jim Kardach of Intel had just read a book about the Vikings and King Harald Gormsson, who ruled Denmark and Norway in the late 10th century. Known as Bluetooth, Harald was “famous for uniting Scandinavia just as we intend to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link,” Kardach explained. And the name just stuck.

Bluetooth's logo also has a Viking heritage. It's a merger of the Scandinavian runes representing Harald's initials.

An ancient name for a modern technology:

  • The "Bluetooth" name was used as a placeholder until an official name was created. The list of finalists included RadioWire and PAN (Personal Area Networking), but for various reasons, neither worked out. Before another name could be found, Bluetooth had already permeated the industry and became synonymous with short-range wireless technology.

  • The technology behind Bluetooth connectivity has led to a slew of innovations, from the creation of a new generation of hearing aids to COVID-19 contact tracing apps, among many others.

  • Why Bluetooth? Scholars say one of Harald’s teeth had died and had taken on a dark blue hue in his mouth. According to Wikipedia, “Bluetooth is the Anglicized version of the Scandinavian Blåtand/Blåtann (or in Old Norse blátǫnn). It was the epithet of King Harald Bluetooth, who united the disparate Danish tribes into a single kingdom.”

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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