How Bluetooth technology got its name


Bluetooth wireless transmission technology has quickly become a part of our daily lives and is a real blessing for anyone who wants to get rid of cables. Whether it’s to listen to music from a smartphone or DAP paired with a portable speaker, Bluetooth headphones or True Wireless IEMs, or to enjoy records on a Bluetooth turntable connected to a pair of wireless speakers or a connected hi-fi amplifier, many wireless-enabled devices feature this technology represented by a strange rune on a blue background. So what is the origin of this symbol and where does the curious name “Bluetooth” come from?

The iconic Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones use Bluetooth technology to let you enjoy your music wherever you go. You can even enjoy your high-resolution audio files up to 24-bit/96kHz thanks to compatibility with the LDAC codec.

A code for collaboration

In 1996, three telecommunications industry leaders, Intel, Ericsson and Nokia, came together to organize the standardization of short-range radio transmission technology to support connectivity and collaboration between different devices and industries.

During one of the meetings, Jim Kardach, engineer for Intel, suggested Bluetooth as a temporary code name for this transmission technology. This name suggested by Kardach originates from King Harald Bluetooth, known to have unified Scandinavia, thus echoing the unification of the computing and mobile phone industries with a short range wireless connection. A temporary name that ended up becoming the official name of this transmission technology.

The Marshall Emberton BT is a Bluetooth speaker designed to follow you on all your adventures thanks to its compact size, waterproof design and 20-hour battery life. It is equipped with a Bluetooth 5.0 controller to allow you to stream music from any smartphone, tablet, DAP or computer.

The king with the blue tooth

Harald Gormsson was a Viking king who lived in the 10th century. Mostly known for unifying Denmark in 980, Harald then set his sights on territories beyond the borders of his own kingdom and conquered Norway. However, this Nordic king is also known for another, more surprising reason: his dead tooth, which was dark blue/gray in color, that earned him the nickname Harald Blåtand, or Harald Bluetooth in English. The Bluetooth logo is a therefore directly inspired by the runic initials of King Harald Blåtand: ᚼ (Hagall or H) + ᛒ (Bjarkan or B).

The Bluetooth logo combines the runic initials of King Harald Blåtand, also known for his blue tooth.

An iconic name

When it came time to choose a final name, the term Bluetooth was to be replaced by RadioWire or PAN (Personal Area Networking). The first choice was to be PAN. However, a quick internet search revealed that this name was already widely used.

As a full trademark search on RadioWire couldn’t be completed in time for the official launch of the technology, the term Bluetooth became the final choice. The term Bluetooth was quickly adopted and became synonymous with short-range wireless technology.

A fresco in Roskilde Cathedral depicting King Harald “Blåtand” Gormsson (16th century).

King Harald Bluetooth certainly had no idea that, more than a thousand years later, his blue tooth would inspire the name of a wireless transmission system!

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Traductrice et rédactrice avec des goûts très éclectiques en matière de musique et de cinéma. Lorsque je ne suis pas au travail, vous pouvez me retrouver en train de regarder “Lost in Translation” de Sofia Coppola pour la centième fois, ou d’écouter un disque de David Bowie, Kate Bush, Joy Division ou Daft Punk sur ma platine Rega Planar 1. Étant d’origine britannique, je suis également adepte de séries à l’humour absurde comme Monty Python’s Flying Circus et The Mighty Boosh !

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