Bluetooth Technology is Named After a King

May 21, 2014 at 8:00 am 4 comments

By Chad Upton | Editor-in-chief

King Harald Gormsson ruled Denmark from c. 958 until his death in 985 or 986 (sources vary). He also dabbled in ruling Norway for a few years starting in roughly c. 970.


He is known for building the first bridge in southern Scandinavia. It was a huge bridge for the time at 5 meters (5.5 yards) wide and 760 meters (831 yards) long. Bridges were of course useful, and this was the longest known bridge in the Viking era — a prestigious symbol for the builder.

Although he’s sometimes credited for it, it’s debated whether Harald was responsible for converting Denmark to Christianity. But, it is fair to say he was known for amicably bridging the religious following in Denmark from pagan to Christianity. This is succinctly demonstrated by one of Denmark’s most well known landmarks, the Jelling Stones. These giant boulders from the Viking Age are now encased in glass and rest in the town of Jelling, Denmark. The largest stone, raised by Harald, is frequently referred to as Denmark’s baptismal certificate. The interesting part is that the engravings depict both heathen and Christian imagery.

Although Harald raised the Jelling Stones in his parent’s honor, his modern legacy relates to his nickname, bluetooth. Like many things in history, there’s no definitive answer to why that was his nickname; but, there are plenty of colorful theories.

  1. He had a bad tooth, which was black and blue.
  2. He often wore blue clothing, and blue dye was the most expensive so it signified his royalty. That is, he was so noble that even his teeth were blue.

In Harald’s day, he was the meaning of bluetooth. Of course today, bluetooth means something completely different. Although it was popularized by connecting cell phones to wireless headsets, the vision was to eventually use bluetooth to wirelessly connect any two devices together.

That vision has been realized. You can use it to stream music to your car or home stereo. Video game systems use it for wireless controllers. It can be used to unlock your home without removing keys from your pocket and you can even pay for products in some places using bluetooth.

Bluetooth technology is named after King Harald because, like Harald, bluetooth can bridge the gap between the Christians and heathens (of wireless devices). The bluetooth logo is even made up of Harald’s Nordic runes initials.


If you can bring people together, maybe your initials will be resurrected one thousand years from now too. You better start working on a cool nickname.

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Photo: Chris Jones (cc)

Sources: wikipedia (harald bluetooth, jelling stones), Viking Empires (book)

Entry filed under: Geek, History and Origins. Tags: , , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. kingdomtelco  |  May 21, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Reblogged this on .

  • 2. Melissa's mom  |  May 22, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Chad: I generally never post, but just wanted to say how much I enjoy all your articles. Some funny some serious, but all are interesting.

  • 3. Allen Reviews  |  April 15, 2015 at 10:25 am

    […] Read the full story […]

  • 4. jason pogue  |  March 25, 2016 at 1:24 am

    A textbook from a computer network security course I took at Lincoln Technical Institute added the story of ‘blue tooth’, but it said it was because that he ate a bunch of berries, and with dental technology virtually nonexistent at the time, over time his teeth had become permanently stained and earned him his famous moniker…..I don’t think he minded either

    Just thought I’d toss in another theory


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