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How Bluetooth got its name

March 04, 2008 //

Companies in the SIG were each developing their own names for the technology and the two top contenders were RadioWire (the Intel proposal) and PAN (for Personal Area Networking, the IBM proposal).


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In 1996 a number of companies were looking to standardize the industry around a short-range radio link for doing a number of things which seem obvious today (not so obvious in 1996).

Within Intel, I had started a program called Business-RF; Ericsson had a program called MC-Link; Nokia had a program called Low Power RF. At the time we were in discussions to figure out the best way to drive a single wireless standard in the industry in order to prevent fragmentation of technologies in this area (remember that in 1996 nothing existed).

Figure 1: Late 20th century marketing slide showing the value of wireless personal area networks .

As we would approach different companies to talk about what short range wireless technologies could do and how having a single short-range standard would be so much better than having three or more competing and fragmenting standards, it became apparent the need to have a single name; as Intel would talk to people about "Biz-RF," Ericsson about "MC-Link" and Nokia about "Low Power-RF," which also created confusion.

In December of 1996 we figured we had the right mixture of companies to be successful in driving the technology through a Special Interest Group (SIG) and met in Lund, Sweden at the Ericsson plant to get final agreement on forming the SIG.

At this time, Intel proposed that the SIG be called by the "codename" Bluetooth until the SIG's marketing group would come up with a formal technology name. When asked about the name Bluetooth, I explained that Bluetooth was borrowed from the 10th century, second King of Denmark, King Harald Bluetooth; who was famous for uniting Scandinavia just as we intended to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link.

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