How Google, Apple And Other Big Brands Got Their Names

The most of us have laready heard the story of how Google got its name. But Google isn’t the only company out there with an odd name. Here’s the list of stories behind the naming of popular tech brands.

The most of us have laready heard the story of how Google got its name. But Google isn’t the only company out there with an odd name. Here’s the list of stories behind the naming of popular tech brands.

  • HP: Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard flipped a coin to decide whether their company would be called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlett.
  • SUN Microsystems: It’s actually an acronym for Stanford University Network, the school where the founders met.
    Cisco: Actually not an acronym, as often assumed. It’s just San Francisco without the San Fran, which is why the “c” was not capitalized originally.
  • Apple: The company was late in filing for a name and trademark, and Steve Jobs issued an ultimatum: Come up with something better than Apple. No dice.
  • Microsoft: Microsoft made MICROcomputer SOFTware. Get it? Yeah, that’s all there is to it. (During their early history, Microsoft wrote their name “Micro-Soft.”) Sometimes the best answer is the most obvious.
  • Oracle: The company grew out of a CIA project codenamed “Oracle” that was ditched. The founders took the name and ran.
  • Sony: Japanese companies are often named after their founders (Toyota), but Akio Morita wanted a name that wouldn’t sound foreign to the American consumers he was targeting. It was derived from sonus, the Latin word for sound, and a weird Engrish slang expression, “sonny boy”, which in 1950s Japan connoted “smart, presentable young men,” which is what Morita considered himself. So no, Sony doesn’t mean anything in Japanese, and there is no Mr Sony.
  • Google: The founders had settled on “googol,” a one with 100 zeroes after it, to signify their ambitions. But an early investor (one of those SUN guys, again) wrote “Google” on a check. So they changed the name so they could cash it.
    For more improbably stories, and some probable ones (HP), click here.
  • Cisco: The name Cisco Systems is often thought to be an acronym, but it actually derives from San Francisco — another Silicon Valley-inflected name. This is the reason why, during the company’s early days, they insisted on the lowercase cisco.
  • Intel: Intel cofounders Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore originally wanted to call the company “Moore Noyce”, but found out it was already trademarked by a hotel chain. So they came up with Intel, which stands for “INTegrated ELectronics.” Still a pretty good description, actually.
  • Adobe: According to Wikipedia, adobe is “a natural building material made from sand, clay, horse manure and water” but that’s not what the company was named after. It was named after Adobe Creek, a river in Los Altos, California, that ran behind the house of one of the founders, John Warnock.
  • Yahoo: Much was made of the name Yahoo!, both by the media, for whom it symbolized the insouciance of dot com companies back in Bubble 1.0, and by the company itself, which calls its employees “yahoos” and its founders “chief yahoos.” There are several conflicting stories about how the name came about. 1. One is that cofounders Jerry Yang and David Filo were browsing through a dictionary (remember those?) to look for name ideas and that they happened upon the definition of a yahoo as “rude, unsophisticated, uncouth” and they liked that. 2. Another is that they drew from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, where he coined the word to refer to a race of brutish humanoid creatures. 3. The last (and once official) story, almost certainly retroactive, is that the name is an acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.” Maybe an “Officious Oracle” that was part of the CIA?

p.s. Dear Readers, what is the most odd story?! What do you think? [via BusinessInsider]

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