Geek Trivia: The Story behind 10 Tech Company Names
Article by George Norman
On 10 Aug 2016
There’s a story behind every name. Take moi for example. I was born one day before Saint George’s Day, so my parents decided to name me George.

But enough about me. Let’s focus on 10 of the biggest companies in the tech world and uncover how they got their names.


1. Apple

The official story says that Steve Job was inspired to choose the name Apple upon having visited an apple farm. He was on a fruitarian diet at the time and he thought that the name was "fun, spirited and not intimidating."

The unofficial story says that Steve Jobs chose the name Apple because it would appear ahead of Atari in the phonebook. Before Apple, Jobs worked for Atari.

Apple’s iconic logo features a bite mark that some say it’s supposed to represent the apple of knowledge from the Garden of Eden. The real reason the logo has a bite mark is because without it, it would look too much like a cherry. The bite mark is there to let you know that you’re looking at an apple, not a cherry.

2. Microsoft

Back in 1975, when Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft, they spelled the company’s name with a hypern: Micro-Soft. That’s because the name is a mix of two words: microprocessor and software.

3. Yahoo

The website that Jerry Yang and David Filo created back in 1994 was called "Jerry and David's guide to the World Wide Web." Later that same year, it was renamed as Yahoo, an acronym that stands Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle or Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.

According to Yang and Filo, they really liked that the word "yahoo" means “rude, unsophisticated, uncouth." That’s why they picked it, because of its meaning. Also, because Filo's college girlfriend would often call him a "yahoo."

Check out are some more interesting moments from Yahoo's history.

4. Google

BackRub – that’s the name Larry Page and Sergey Brin initially picked for the search engine that today handles 2.4 million searches in just one minute. Why did they pick this silly sounding name? Because the system estimated a website’s importance by checking how many backlinks it has.

The name Google that we’re all familiar with is a misspelled version of "googol," a mathematical term that refers to a 1 followed by one hundred 0s. Page and Brin purposely chose this name to show that their search engine was meant to provide easy access to massive amounts of information.

5. Samsung Electronics

The Samsung we’re all familiar with is Samsung Electronics, which is part of the incredibly huge Samsung conglomerate. The name Samsung literally translates to "3 stars." And until 1992, Samsung Electronics' logo actually featured 3 stars.

Now, why did Samsung pick a name that means 3 stars? Because stars are "big, numerous and powerful."

6. LG

The name LG doesn’t stand for "Life’s Good," even though the company did have a marketing slogan that said just that. The name stands for the two companies that merged together to form LG: Lucky and GoldStar. In 1995, the decision was made to shorten the name Lucky Goldstar to LG.

7. Flickr

Flickr’s co-founders, Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake, explained that the idea for the name came to them while they were talking to a friend. They tried to purchase the Flicker domain, but the owner wouldn’t give it up. So they dropped the E and went with Flickr.

Check out some more fun facts about Flickr.

8. Twitter

Twitter's original project name was "twttr." This was partly inspired by Flickr and partly due to the fact that the domain was already in use. Six months after twttr launched, the team purchased the domain and changed the name to Twitter. Other names that were considered were Twitch, FriendStalker and Dodgeball.

Here are some more interesting facts about Twitter.

9. Spotify

Founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon were brainstorming and trying to find a name for the music streaming service. Because they were in different rooms, they were shouting ideas back and forth. During all this shouting, Daniel misheard a name suggested by Martin, and that’s how Spotify got its name.

When Spotify’s popularity increased, the two founders felt embarrassed about this origin story, so they came up with a new one, saying that the name Spotify is a blend between "spot" and "identify."

10. Mozilla

Jamie Zawinski, who worked on the early releases of the now defunct Netscape Navigator, came up with the name Mozilla at a Netscape staff meeting. The name is a blend of Mosaic and Godzilla.

Netscape Navigator, which was based on the Mosaic web browser, was known by the codename Mozilla during development.

Honorable mention – Facebook

If you think that Facebook isn’t a very good name, then you’re not familiar with the social network’s original name: Facemash. The program that Mark Zuckerberg wrote back in 2003 was called Facemash and it was a "hot or not" type of thing that asked people to choose who’s more appealing.

Here are some more interesting facts about Facebook.

Tags: Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Samsung, LG, Flickr, Twitter, Spotify, Mozilla, Facebook
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
You can follow him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter

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Geek Trivia: The Story behind 10 Tech Company Names
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