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ᚼᛒ: Harald Bluetooth and Your Phone

ᚼᛒ: Harald Bluetooth and Your Phone


I’m in the small village of Jelling, in Denmark. And behind me, in that central churchyard, are the Jelling Stones. They’re runestones, historical markers placed there by some of
the first kings of Denmark more than a thousand years ago. Once they were painted bright colours, but a millennium of erosion has taken its
toll. That’s also why they’re now in a climate-controlled
glass box to keep them safe from the weather and from
vandals. The smaller, older stone was placed by King
Gorm in honour of his wife, Thyra, but the larger
one: that was placed by their son, whose name, once you translate it to English, was Harald
Bluetooth. The inscription honours his parents, and then
it says: “Harald, who won for himself all of Denmark
and Norway and made the Danes Christian”. There’s an inscription of Jesus on the back. Now, obviously, history is messy and complicated, and if you are raising a memorial runestone
to yourself and to your own achievements, then you gloss over some of the less successful
bits of your history, but still: this is an incredibly important artifact. It’s called Denmark’s birth certificate, it’s part of this World Heritage Site, and it tells the tale of a king who united
Denmark and Norway. A thousand years later, an engineer at Intel
called Jim Kardach was working on short-range radio technology, the sort of thing that might unite computers
and cell phones, and make all those devices speak one compatible
protocol. The various names proposed for the various
technologies were things like Biz-RF, MC-Link and Low Power
RF, which were all a bit unwieldy. Kardack heard the story of Harald Bluetooth from a Swedish person that he was working
alongside, and he figured, huh, that’d make a good codename
for the technology. And that’s all it was. A codename. The official name that was decided later was
Personal Area Networking, or PAN, a name that stuck until three weeks before
launch when the lawyers said that they couldn’t possibly
trademark something so generic. With no other options, they went with Bluetooth. And that logo? Harald Bluetooth. HB in the runes of the time, more or less. Combine those two characters into what’s called
a “bind rune”, sort of kind of like a signature… and there’s the Bluetooth logo. A thousand years ago, a Danish king stood
somewhere near here and ordered those stones to be carved and
raised. And now, his name is on our phones.

6 thoughts on “ᚼᛒ: Harald Bluetooth and Your Phone”

  1. Interesting. I always recognized it as a bindrune of some sort; I just didn't know what the letters were supposed to represent.

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