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'So, that's why it's called Bluetooth!' and other surprising tech name origins

Evan Dashevsky | Nov. 11, 2013
The hidden, and occasionally accidental, history of common tech brand names.

The site that would become eBay started life as the more aptly dubbed "AuctionWeb," which was part of a larger personal site run by former Apple software engineer Pierre Omidyar.

As AuctionWeb grew in popularity, Omidyar decided to spin it off into its own entity, which he wanted to call "Echo Bay" after his consulting firm, Echo Bay Technology Group. Unfortunately the domain was already taken, so Omidyar shortened it to the available ""

Takeaway: Sometimes success means just settling for what's available.

We all do it: We use the awesome power of Google to correct our common misspellings. For example, I never spell the word "bureaucrat" correctly on the first try, but I can depend on Mountain View's algorithm to provide the correct spelling whenever I plug in "buerocrat" or some other massacred linguistic approximation.

Unfortunately, this spelling-correction wizardry was unavailable to the site's founders in the 1990s.

The word googol (note the third "o" and the lack of an "e") is a mathematical term for the number 10 to the 100th power (or a 1 followed by 100 zeros). Cofounder, and current sad CEO Larry Page decided that it would be the perfect name for his new company as it reflected the nearly unimaginable vastness the Web.

However, the two-"o" "Google" we're familiar with today is the result of an accidental misspelling by one of Page's classmates, Sean Anderson. David Koller, another Stanford classmate of Page who was around at the dawn of Google recalls the story behind Google's name on his personal Stanford site:

[Fellow Stanford student] Sean [Anderson] and Larry were in their office, using the whiteboard, trying to think up a good name--something that related to the indexing of an immense amount of data. Sean verbally suggested the word "googolplex," and Larry responded verbally with the shortened form, "googol"...Sean is not an infallible speller, and he made the mistake of searching for the name spelled as "," which he found to be available. Larry liked the name, and within hours he took the step of registering the name ""...

Amazon is the global superstore that places everything from diapers to streaming original sitcoms to questionably legal botanicals a single click away from increasing your credit card debt. But what does the name "Amazon" have to do with the site's original niche--books--let alone with its expanded mission as an electronics manufacturer and a seller of all things sellable?

Well, they're both big, and they both start with the right letter.

Founder Jeff Bezos had originally dubbed his company "Cadabra" (as in "abracadabra"). But when his lawyer misheard the name as "cadaver" (as in "dead person"), Bezos decided his company needed a new, less morgue-friendly name.


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