Ah, the trusty Bluetooth logo. It's just a pointy 'B', right? Like most of the countless logos we set eyes on every single day, we've hardly stopped to ruminate on the design for everyone's favourite wireless technology standard. But two decades on from its deployment, the internet is just discovering the fascinating story behind Bluetooth's name and logo.
According to one of the engineers behind the development of Bluetooth, the name belongs to a Viking-era king with a bad tooth. And not only that, but like many of the best logos of all time, the icon is hiding a secret message.
Engineers Sven Mattisson Jim Kardach were working on the technology in the late 1990s when they realised it needed a catchy name to make it stand out from the confusing plethora of wireless tech being developed at the time. And the concept of 'Bluetooth' was, like all the best ideas, devised over a beer.
According to France24 (opens in new tab), the two men began discussing history while drowning their sorrows after a disappointing pitch. They "talked at length" about Vikings, including the king of Denmark, Harald "Bluetooth" Gormsson – a name said to refer to his dead tooth.
The king is most famous for uniting Norway and Denmark, a parallel which delighted Mattisson and Kardach who were "seeking to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link" (which is, of course, exactly the same as bringing warring nations together).
But it isn't just the name that has a surprising history – the Bluetooth logo is also hiding a secret. It turns out the design actually contains two letters, rather than just a slightly insect-like B. What you're actually looking at is a superimposition of the Nordic runes for the letters H and B (below), for 'Harald Bluetooth'.
And it seems Twitter is delighted by the revelation, with many users declaring themselves to have been 'today years old' when they discovered Bluetooth's Nordic roots:
Today I learned the meaning behind the Bluetooth symbol — It’s a combination of the Nordic runes for H and B, which refer to king Harald Bluetooth. Bluetooth technology was meant to unite devices the same way Harald Bluetooth united the tribes of Denmark into a single kingdom. pic.twitter.com/SYpdKR6fBjJune 25, 2020
I was today years old when I learned Bluetooth is named after the 10th century King of Denmark and the logo is his initials in runes merged together.#history #bluetooth #technologyhttps://t.co/7Z9G6jsmQzFebruary 20, 2021
I always think that Bluetooth is spelled, like, BluTooth, because I thought it was some tech-company coinage, but apparently it's named after 10th-century Danish King Harald Bluetooth and the logo is not just a stylized B, it's a combination of the runes ᚼ and ᛒ, his initials.February 6, 2021
We love a good old hidden logo message – if you're looking for more, you'll find no less than 50 of them in this mind-blowing infographic covering everything from Amazon's secret smile to perhaps the most famous example of the lot in the FedEx arrow. And if you fancy putting Bluetooth to good use, our list of the best wireless headphones is here to help you channel your inner Viking king.