Have you ever noticed that the Bluetooth symbol looks like a Norse rune? We use this technology every day and the truth is that behind its angled logo is a story of Vikings. In fact, not only the symbol but also the name of Bluetooth itself has Scandinavian origin.
Specifically, the name of this connectivity is inspired by King Harald Gormsson, nicknamed Blåtand or Blue Tooth . He is the king of Denmark between 958 and 986 and also assumed the throne of Norway from 970.
Who was Harald Blue Tooth?
Harald Gromsson (936-986) was the son of Grom the Elder, from whom he inherited the crown of Denmark. He consolidated his dominion in this Nordic region, unifying the various Danish clans and building fortresses . He converted to Christianity around the year 960, as a condition for saving his life after a defeat before the Holy Roman Emperor Otto I. However, legend has it that he received baptism after a miracle in which a Christian priest managed to sustain in passing a hot iron without being damaged. Be that as it may, Harald Blue Tooth expanded Denmark’s area of influence with some vassals and even managed to proclaim himself king of Norway.
And why was it called Blue Tooth? There are two main theories. The first and most accepted is that he had a blue or black tooth due to a disease . Some experts point to haemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN) or fetal erythroblastosis. The other hypothesis explains that he had dark skin and hair ( blå , meaning dark in Old Norse), a trait rare in Denmark. When translated into English in later Saxon chronicles, Blåtand was misinterpreted as Bluetooth, “blue tooth”.
Why did Harald Blåtand call Bluetooth technology?
In the 1990s, a consortium of companies was formed to create a technology that can transmit data between devices wirelessly. Ericsson, Nokia, IBM, Intel and Toshiba were the founding members of the so-called Bluetooth Special Interest Group. And where did they get their name?
It seems that Jim Kardach, one of the developers who participated in the project, was reading The Long Ships , a novel by Frans G. Bengtsson in which King Harald Gromsson unified all the Danish tribes. Kardach drew an analogy where, like Harald Blue Tooth brought the Danes together, Bluetooth technology brought the devices together .
Although this name was provisional, the consortium companies eventually agreed that Bluetooth would be the definitive name. To design the logo, two Norse runes or Viking letters were merged : H and B in honor of Harald Bluetooth’s initials.
Now you know there is some Viking history on your smartphone. Plus, you have a curious anecdote to tell.