Here’s How “Wifi” and “Bluetooth” Became Everyday Terms

Image Credit: Pixabay

Most of us hook up to Bluetooth, Wifi, or both multiple times every day. Chances are your devices do it automatically now, so maybe you don’t really even think about it anymore, but it’s nonetheless true.

But have you ever stopped to consider how those terms came about? Why it’s “bluetooth” and not some other color tooth and wait, why is it a tooth, anyway?

Read on, friends. Because if you weren’t curious before, you surely are now.


Image Credit: Pixabay

I would not, in a million years, have guessed that this essential piece of modern technology hailed from a world ruled by Vikings – but it does.

Intel mobile computing engineer Jim Kardach told EE Times that he was reading about Vikings while working on the project and grew enamored with a particular historical figure: the second king of Denmark.

“Bluetooth was borrowed from the 10th century, second kind of Denmark, King Harald Bluetooth; who was famous for uniting Scandinavia just as we intended to unite PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link.”

King Harald Bluetooth Gormusson (a.k.a. Harald Blatand Gormsson) ruled in the mid-to-late 900s and, in addition to uniting leaders using nonviolent talks, is credited with bringing Christianity to his home region.

The Bluetooth logo is a combination of the initials ‘H’ and ‘B’ written in Scandinavian runes.

And, interestingly, the king earned the moniker Blatand (Bluetooth) because he had a dead, blueish tooth). Maybe. It depends on the translation you’re using.

“Bluetooth” was supposed to be a placeholder code for the project but obviously, it ended up sticking.


Image Credit: Pixabay

So, this one isn’t as interesting or fun (says the history nerd), because Wi-Fi doesn’t actually stand for anything. It’s a registered trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance (formerly Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance), and founding member Phil Belanger talked about how the term came about with Boing Boing.

“We needed something that was a little catchier than ‘IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence.”

So they hired a company to help with branding, and they proposed 10 names, one of which was Wi-Fi.

Though it (purposely) rhymes with Hi-Fi (short for high fidelity), Wi-Fi does not, and never has, stood for anything – wireless fidelity included.

The more you know!