While I am more often than not researching books and their contents, I do every now and then venture out into the world of music. It is not that I do not like music – I actually play a handful of instruments and sing – but I sometimes find it distracting when I am writing or researching. But even now, I am listening to the song that began me on this search for “bluetooth”: Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling”. Recently, I was searching music with my husband when this song came up. We were listening and I thought, what is the band name again? Haven’t I heard this somewhere? So I did a quick search and found mostly stuff about their band until I found what I was looking for: a Swedish viking named Harald Bluetooth. Now, Blue Swede and Bluetooth do not have much in common with each other, unlike I first thought, but Harald has much in common with me.
Like many people of European heritage, I am a descendant of William the Conqueror. (Truly, the farther you go back, the more closely connected you are to other people. Though this is obvious with Noah and his sons, it is even clear with recent ancestry). While I was doing research on my ancestry, I came across this neat fact along with the name of one of his ancestors, Harald Bluetooth. Now I love history, and I have studied for a long time, but I never once came across this name before. And even while I was doing research on my ancestry and I did discover him, I did not do a whole lot more with this person except find out where and when he was born and when he died, and find out who his parents were. There was a lot of other research to do at the time. But now, as I was looking up information of Blue Swede, I decided to do a little more digging.
Harald Bluetooth was a viking. He ruled in Denmark and Norway and was a convert to Christianity. His daughter would end up marrying a man he helped in Norway, Richard the Fearless, and their son would become the grandfather of William the Conqueror. His nickname “bluetooth” is derived from “Blachtent” or “Blåtand” which meant a “blue or black tooth”, or what appeared dark. Color names were more broad than how we use them today. But what made Bluetooth more significant was that fact that he was a great communicator. He brought warring nations together in peaceful negotiation. He made these connections strong and with little conflict. And this is what makes this man of old culturally significant.
In case you have not already guessed it, this is where Bluetooth technology got its name. Just as Harald Bluetooth was a good communicator and great at making connections between people, so too is Bluetooth technology used to make connections between two separate devices. Unsurprisingly, the creators of this technology are Scandinavian. Like humans are prone to do, we take things from our ancestry and preserve them in landmarks, children, and even inventions. Thus, these inventors took a name from their heritage that was both fitting and memorable. No doubt those of Scandinavian heritage knew this story, even if some in the rest of the West, like me, did not. And what about that little symbol that appears everywhere Bluetooth technology is used? That symbol comes from the first futhark rune of Harald’s first name, ᚼ, and the first rune of his nickname, ᛒ. Combining these runes, called a bindrune, created the well-recognized Bluetooth symbol.
Though I have used the Bluetooth device before, I never once thought to look up its origins. I do not have a good reason why, but now I am more inclined to look up other tech names to find their origins. Perhaps I am late to the game, but I find the etymology of Bluetooth fascinating. History is all around us, especially in names. This is why I spend so much time researching names and different etymologies. I hope this encourages you to know more about the devices you use and why things are named the way they are, including why you have the name you do.
Blessings to you and yours,