First introduced almost twenty years ago in 1999, Bluetooth has become a household name with its iconic logo present on almost every device we own. From headphones and speakers, to cars and even toothbrushes, everything today is Bluetooth connected. But have you ever wondered just how Bluetooth got its bizarre name? It turns out we owe the namesake to the first Christian Viking king.
King Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson was the Viking king that ruled Norway and Denmark from the year 958 to 986. Born around the year 910 and son of the Viking king Gorm the Old, Harald became famous for unifying the various tribes of Scandinavia and for introducing Christianity to the Vikings. He was known for having a rotting tooth that appeared to be blue, hence the moniker.
King Harald was converted to Christianity in 960 by a German cleric of the name Poppo. According to tradition, the cleric asked Harald to prove his faith in Christ, who did so by carrying a great weight of hot iron without being burned. Afterwards, Harald was baptized by Poppo. Following his own conversion, Harald’s people abandoned their pagan Norse gods and gradually all of Denmark was converted.
Why was the Viking kings nickname used for the technology? At the time of its creation, Bluetooth was meant to be a unifying technology for wireless communication. Jim Kardach, a founder of the Bluetooth SIG that manages the technology, explains he chose the name because King Harald was famous for unifying Denmark and Norway much like Bluetooth was intended to be a unifying technology:
“Harald had united Denmark and Christianized the Danes! It occurred to me that this would make a good codename for the program. At this time I also created a PowerPoint foil with a version of the Runic stone where Harald held a cellphone in one hand and a notebook in the other and with a translation of the runes: ‘Harald united Denmark and Norway’ and ‘Harald thinks that mobile PC’s and cellular phones should seamlessly communicate'”
Not only did Bluetooth take after King Harald’s name, but they also got their logo from him too. The logo is actually what is called a bind rune, a ligature or joining of two separate Scandinavian runes. Combining the runes that correspond to the initials of Harald Bluetooth in the Latin alphabet creates the official Bluetooth logo.