Stockholm: One of the most famous modern technologies owes its name and logo to a Viking era king with bad teeth: a quarter of a century ago, engineers came up with the idea of the nickname “Bluetooth” on beer.
At the end of the 1990s, Sven Matteson, a Swedish engineer with the Ericsson Communications Group, and Jim Cardash, an American at Intel, were among those who developed the revolutionary technology.
In 1998, at the dawn of the “wireless” era, the two men were part of an international consortium that created a global standard for the technology that Ericsson first developed in 1994.
But before that, they were struggling to display their wireless products.
Intel had its Biz-RF wireless software, had the Ericsson MC-Link, and the Nokia RF had a low power. Cardash, Mattison and others presented their ideas at a symposium in Toronto in late 1997.
“Jim and I both said people didn’t appreciate what we presented,” Mattison, now 65, who is wrapping up his career at Ericsson, recalls in a recent interview with Agence France-Presse.
The engineer, who traveled all the way to Canada from Sweden for one hour, decided to hang out with Cardash in the evening before returning home.
“We had a lukewarm reception for our confusing suggestion, and at this time I realized that we needed a symbolic name for the project that everyone could use,” Cardash explained in a long report on his Web page.
A chauvinist story
To drown out their sorrows, the two men headed to a local bar in Toronto and ended up talking about history, which is one of Cardash’s passions.
“We had some beer … and Jim is interested in history so he asked me about the Vikings, so we talked at length about it,” Mattison said, admitting that his memories of that historic night are now somewhat hazy.
All he knows about the Vikings, Cardash said, is that they run “with horned helmets raiding and looting places, and that they were crazy bosses.”
Mattison Cardash recommends reading a well-known Swedish historical novel about the Vikings entitled “The Long Ships”.
The movie is set in the tenth century – a “chauvinistic story” about a boy who was taken hostage by the Vikings, Matteson says – one name in the book caught Cardash’s attention: the name of the king of Denmark, Harald “Bluetooth” Gormson.
An important historical figure in 10th century Scandinavia, the title of King of Denmark is said to refer to a dead tooth, or, as other tales say, to his love for berries or even a slight mistake in translation.
During his reign, Denmark turned its back on its pagan beliefs and the gods of Norse, and gradually converted to Christianity.
But it was best known for the unification of Norway and Denmark into a federation that lasted until 1814.
The King That Unified Scandinavian Competitors – The Happiest Parallel Those seeking to unify the personal computer and cellular industries through a short-range wireless link.
And the reference to the king goes beyond the name: the bluetooth emblem, which at first glance resembles a geometric wave, is in fact the superposition of the runes of the letters “H” and “B”, the initials of the king.
Low-cost and low-power consumption, Bluetooth was finally launched in May 1998, using technology that allowed computers to communicate with each other in the short term without fixed cables.
The first consumer device with this technology arrived on the market in 1999, and its name became permanent, which was initially supposed to be temporary until something better was invented.