Why Is Bluetooth Named After A Viking?

Bluetooth Named After A Viking

Bluetooth technology has become an indispensable part of our daily lives, from connecting headphones to phones to transferring data between devices. However, very few know that this revolutionary technology is named after a Viking king. In this article, we delve into the intriguing history behind the naming of Bluetooth and its association with Harald Bluetooth, the Viking King of Denmark.

Harald Bluetooth: The Viking King

Harald Bluetooth Gormsson, known more commonly as Harald Bluetooth, was a renowned Viking king who ruled Denmark and Norway in the late 10th century. The son of King Gorm the Old, Harald is best remembered for his role in uniting Denmark and Norway under his rule, converting the Danes to Christianity, and initiating infrastructural developments that established him as a visionary leader.

As the Bluetooth Viking king, Harald Bluetooth played a pivotal role in bringing together diverse tribes, much like Bluetooth technology binds various devices today.

The Historical Tale of Harald Bluetooth: Uniting Denmark and Norway

Harald Bluetooth Gormsson, the son of King Gorm the Old, was a notable figure in Scandinavian history. Known as Harald “Bluetooth” because of his reportedly blue or black tooth, he ascended to the throne of Denmark following his father’s death around 958. Harald is renowned in history for two primary accomplishments: the unification of Denmark and Norway and the introduction of Christianity to the Danish people.

During his reign, the Viking King Bluetooth strove to unify the fractious Danish tribes under his rule. He extended his sovereignty over Norway, thus solidifying his power and establishing a sense of unity among the diverse tribes. This amalgamation was not an easy task; it required a combination of diplomatic prowess, strategic alliances, and military strength. Yet, Harald Bluetooth successfully united these two territories, a milestone achievement that held significance well beyond his lifetime.

Beyond his unifying efforts, Harald also embarked on a campaign to Christianize Denmark. He was probably influenced by his alliances with German rulers, who were already Christian. He laid the groundwork for Denmark’s transition from its pagan Viking past to its Christian future, aligning it with the rest of Europe. This initiative is marked by the construction of several monumental structures, including the Jelling Stones, large runic stones that stand as a testament to Harald’s transformative reign.

Therefore, the legacy of Harald Bluetooth goes well beyond his distinctive dental condition. His reign was one of unity, transformation, and progress, characteristics that still resonate today. The historical tale of Harald Bluetooth is one of a leader’s endeavor to bring harmony and unity to his realm. This theme is reflected in the technological marvel named in his honor.

The Symbolism Behind the Name

Why, you might wonder, is a cutting-edge 21st-century technology named after a 10th-century Viking king? The name ‘Bluetooth’ was proposed by Jim Kardach, an Intel engineer working on the technology in 1997. He was inspired by the historical novel “The Long Ships” by Frans G. Bengtsson, which featured Harald Bluetooth.

In the course of reading, Kardach drew parallels between Harald’s unification efforts and the purpose of the new technology – to unify computers and cellular devices in a short-range wireless network. Hence, the moniker ‘Bluetooth’ seemed fitting, symbolizing the ability of the technology to unite various devices, just like the Viking king united different tribes under his rule.

Who Invented Bluetooth?

Bluetooth technology, known for fostering seamless connections between different devices, wasn’t the product of a single inventor. Instead, it was born from the collaborative efforts of several tech giants, leading to a technology that revolutionized the way devices communicate.

In 1998, Ericsson, a Swedish telecommunication company, initiated the development of Bluetooth as an alternative to RS-232 data cables. It was designed to support simple wireless communication between devices over short distances. However, to achieve the broader market reach necessary for the technology’s success, Ericsson realized they needed to collaborate with other tech industry leaders.

This realization led to the formation of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) in the same year, with Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia, and Toshiba as its founding members. These companies combined their resources and expertise to develop and promote Bluetooth technology.

Among the many individuals who contributed to Bluetooth’s creation, Dr. Jaap Haartsen stands out. An engineer at Ericsson, he was tasked with developing a short-range radio connection that could enable new functionalities for mobile phones. Haartsen’s groundbreaking work laid the technological foundation for Bluetooth.

Meanwhile, the naming credit goes to Jim Kardach, an Intel engineer who was part of the Bluetooth SIG. As we have explored earlier, inspired by Harald Bluetooth, a Viking king known for unifying Denmark and Norway, Kardach proposed ‘Bluetooth’ as the name for this unifying technology.

Today, Bluetooth SIG includes over 30,000 member companies, and Bluetooth technology is incorporated into billions of devices worldwide, from smartphones and computers to cars and healthcare devices. It’s a testament to the collective efforts of various innovators who worked together to revolutionize how devices communicate, culminating in a technology that continues to shape our digital experiences.

Jim Kardach: The Intel Engineer Inspired by a Viking King

Jim Kardach, an engineer at Intel, played an instrumental role in the development of Bluetooth technology. However, his contribution extends beyond his technical prowess; his fascination with history and literature led to the naming of this transformative technology.

Kardach was deeply engrossed in reading “The Long Ships,” a historical novel by Frans G. Bengtsson. This book, set in the Viking Age, featured Harald Bluetooth, the king known for unifying Denmark and parts of Norway. While immersed in this tale, Kardach was also working on a system for unifying a variety of technologies, including PCs and mobile phones, through short-range radio links.

Seeing parallels between Harald’s unifying efforts and the work he was engaged in, Kardach proposed the name ‘Bluetooth’ for the new technology. In doing so, he drew an analogy between the Viking king’s unification of territories and Bluetooth’s potential to unify communication protocols. This inspiration was not limited to the naming. Kardach and his team also paid homage to Harald Bluetooth by incorporating ancient Viking runes into the Bluetooth logo, further strengthening the historical connection.

Thus, Jim Kardach, the Intel engineer, ingeniously linked the modern world with the ancient past. His unique perspective and passion for history added a fascinating dimension to technological innovation, showing that inspiration can come from unexpected places. Today, the name ‘Bluetooth’ is a lasting tribute to a Viking king and an engineer’s creativity.

The Bluetooth Logo: A Nod to the Viking Era

The influence of the Harald Bluetooth Viking legacy extends beyond the name of the technology. If you’ve ever closely examined the Bluetooth logo, you’ll notice it consists of two Scandinavian runes, ‘H’ (Hagall) and ‘B’ (Bjarkan), which are the initials of Harald Bluetooth. These runes, used during the Viking Age, have been merged to create the recognizable Bluetooth symbol we know today.

Bluetooth: Fostering Digital Unity in an Increasingly Fragmented World

In a world of burgeoning technology, a multitude of devices, and a plethora of operating systems, achieving interconnectivity can seem like a Herculean task. Yet, Bluetooth technology, inspired by the unifying legacy of the Viking king Harald Bluetooth, stands as a beacon of digital unity amidst this technological diversity.

Named after the king known for unifying Denmark and Norway, Bluetooth technology brings together disparate elements to form a harmonious whole. It enables different devices to communicate and share data over a short-range wireless connection, irrespective of their make, model, or operating system. In doing so, Bluetooth is fostering digital unity, much like Harald Bluetooth enabled unity among distinct tribes in the 10th century.

The universal appeal of Bluetooth lies in its simplicity and versatility. Whether listening to music on wireless headphones, transferring files between devices, or using hands-free systems in vehicles, Bluetooth has made seamless wireless connectivity a part of our everyday lives. Furthermore, its role in enabling the Internet of Things, a concept that relies heavily on interconnectivity, has proven vital in the evolution of smart homes and cities.

Thus, in an increasingly fragmented digital world, Bluetooth, much like its namesake, is bringing about a sense of unity. It is breaking down barriers between devices and operating systems, creating a cohesive digital environment paving the way for greater technological integration and advancements.

The Influence of Harald Bluetooth Viking King 

Harald Bluetooth’s reign as the Viking King of Denmark was marked by unity and development. He oversaw the construction of fortresses, bridges, and churches to bolster his kingdom’s defenses and promote Christianity. He was a ruler who pursued progress and unification despite the violence and turbulence typical of the Viking era.

Much like Harald’s influence, Bluetooth technology has transformed the way we connect and communicate. It has become an enabler for the Internet of Things (IoT), providing a simple, secure, and ubiquitous connectivity standard for devices ranging from smartphones to smart homes. Just as Harald bridged the divide among the tribes, Bluetooth has bridged the gap between different devices and technologies.

Bluetooth: The Modern-Day Harbinger of Unity

Bluetooth technology, inspired by the Bluetooth Viking King, continues to unify devices in an increasingly fragmented digital world. Whether using wireless headphones, syncing your smartphone to your car, or sharing files between devices, Bluetooth is the invisible force that seamlessly brings it together.

Bluetooth has also played an instrumental role in making wearable technology, smart homes, and even smart cities a reality. It has broken down barriers between devices by offering a universal standard for short-range wireless connectivity, just like Harald Bluetooth did with the Danish tribes in the 10th century.

Transcending Time: The Enduring Legacy of the Viking King Harald Bluetooth

The legacy of Harald Bluetooth, the Viking King, transcends the constraints of time, reaching into our modern world in a most unexpected way – through the name of a wireless technology standard. The tale of Harald Bluetooth is not only confined to history textbooks but is also ingrained in our everyday lives whenever we connect a pair of wireless headphones or share files between devices.

The enduring influence of Harald’s reign is felt in the values that he upheld – unity, progress, and transformation. Harald’s unification of Denmark and Norway laid the foundation for their growth as nations, while his commitment to Christianity marked a crucial turning point in Danish history.

Similarly, Bluetooth technology, named in his honor, has echoed these principles of unification and transformation. It has revolutionized the way we connect devices, offering a standard of communication that transcends the boundaries set by manufacturers and operating systems.

Moreover, the Bluetooth logo, a combination of Viking runes symbolizing Harald’s initials, serves as a daily reminder of the Viking king’s influence. It subtly underlines the connection between our contemporary lives and a period in history that was, in many ways, vastly different yet strikingly similar in its quest for progress and unity.

Therefore, Harald Bluetooth’s legacy continues to thrive, blending seamlessly into our digital landscape. It’s a testament to his impact as a leader. His influence has traveled from the 10th-century Viking era to our 21st-century digital age, proving that true leadership and innovation are timeless.


The story behind Bluetooth’s naming is a fascinating intersection of history and technology. The Viking King Bluetooth’s unifying legacy still reverberates in today’s world through the eponymous technology. As we use Bluetooth technology in our daily lives, we are, in a way, paying homage to a Viking king who once brought unity to his kingdom, just as Bluetooth brings unity to our digital devices.

As technology continues to evolve and expand, naming this technology after a 10th-century king serves as a gentle reminder that even amidst rapid advancement, enduring values, such as unity and cooperation, remain as relevant today as they were in Harald Bluetooth’s time.

The Viking King’s influence transcends centuries, reaching us through an essential piece of technology. From the Viking King of Denmark to the globally recognized technology, Bluetooth continues to symbolize unification, collaboration, and seamless connectivity, reminding us that sometimes, the past has a curious way of shaping the future.