I am in the process of researching the Viking culture for a future post (yes, I am a huge fan of Vikings on History Channel), and stumbled upon this really cool nugget of info with a present-day connection that I just have to share! I love a good backstory…
I always thought Bluetooth was an odd name for a tech devise, especially one I associated with an earpiece—shouldn’t it be called Blue-ear? Of course it is much more than a silly ear fob, it provides wireless capabilities to all sorts of devices we rely on these days.
Well. It turns out that Ericsson, the company that invented Bluetooth, is Swedish and they named their devise for Harald “Bluetooth” Blatand. He was King of Denmark and parts of Norway from 958-987 AD, at the time Scandinavia was plagued by incursions of German barbarians.
In an effort to protect his people he built massive defensive ramparts. Perhaps more importantly, he managed to unite the many Danish tribes, who historically did not get along, and even forged a positive(?) relationship with neighboring Norwegian groups. He was able to bring people together for a common cause.
His legacy inspired Ericsson to name their communications device for him because he “found a way to make communication possible between groups that previously refused to connect with one another.” (Oliver, 2013.)
The funny thing is, just about an hour before reading this I had finally gotten around to installing the new iPhone operating system. (I know, I know, a little slow on the uptake…) After doing so, I noticed a new icon at the top right and wondered what it was. It looked kind of like Chi Rho, a Christian symbol, but I knew it wasn’t that. It also looked kind of runic …ding, ding, ding!
The runic alphabet was used in northern Europe prior to Christianization. As the region converted, the Latin alphabet I am using in this post came into use.
Ericsson combined Harald Blatand’s runic initials into a monogram for their Bluetooth icon. I have to say, I am kind of stoked to have runes on my phone! Sort-of runes, that is.
Here are the runes for “H” and “B”:
Combined to form the Bluetooth icon:
And here is the Chi Rho in case you aren’t familiar with it:
We live with history every day, whether we realize it or not!
Have you been surprised by the backstory of something we take for granted? If so, please share below—you know I want to hear about it!
Oliver, Neil. 2013. The Vikings: A New History. New York, NY. Pegasus Books, LLC.