How 10 Famous Technology Products Got Their Names

From iPod and BlackBerry to Twitter and Wikipedia, we take a look at the processes and people who came up with the names for these iconic tech products.
Wikipedia: Just What It Sounds Like

Wikipedia: Just What It Sounds Like

  • Wikipedia: Just What It Sounds Like
  • Android: Secretive, But Still Not Exciting
  • Twitter: Connecting the Digital Flock 140 Characters at a Time
  • Windows 7: Counting on the Power of 7
  • iPod: "Open the pod bay door, Hal"
  • Firefox: Second Time's a Charm
  • Mac OS X and "The Big Cats": Catlike Sleekness and Style
  • BlackBerry: Sweet Addictiveness
  • ThinkPad: Simplicity Wins Out
  • Red Hat Linux: A Name Rich with Meaning

Twitter: Connecting the Digital Flock 140 Characters at a Time

When cofounder Biz Stone saw the application that Jack Dorsey created in 2006 he was reminded of the way birds communicate: "Short bursts of information...Everyone is chirping, having a good time." In response, Stone came up with "twttr," and the group eventually added some vowels. It's hard to think of a more evocative name in the tech world than twitter, but what began as what Stone described as "trivial" bursts of communication developed into a powerful means of networking, breaking news, and forum for the 44th US president's campaign.

Windows 7: Counting on the Power of 7

While Microsoft's next OS is kind of a "Ho-hum" name, one has only to look at what happened with the most recent Windows release to understand why Microsoft might have gone back to a tried-and-true naming philosophy: Vista? Ouch. Windows 95 and XP? Those have done much better. Microsoft's Mike Nash announced the name this way: "Simply put, this is the seventh release of Windows, so therefore 'Windows 7' just makes sense." We're betting that Microsoft execs are hoping that number 7 will deliver on its promise of luck--they could sure use a win after Vista.

ThinkPad: Simplicity Wins Out

The venerable line of PC notebooks rolled onto the scene in 1992. While the concept was spot on, there was turmoil at IBM as to what to call it. IBM's pen-computing group wanted to keep it simple; they liked ThinkPad. But IBM's corporate naming committee didn't--it didn't have a number, and every IBM product had to have a number, and how would ThinkPad translate into other languages? Due to the chutzpah of the IBMer who unveiled it, ThinkPad won out, and it was a huge hit for IBM, which eventually sold it to Lenovo in 2005.

Android: Secretive, But Still Not Exciting

You'd think the story behind the naming of the Open Handset Alliance's new open-source platform for mobile devices, which includes the brand-new G1 loaded with Google's goodies, would be cool. But, uh, not so much. Back in 2005, Google quietly acquired a mysterious startup named Android Inc., which had been operating under "a cloak of secrecy" on "making software for mobile phones," reported Businessweek. The result of all Google's secrecy and Internet hype was the debut of T-Mobile's G1 on October 22, 2008.

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Topics: thinkpad, Google Android, twitter, Windows 7, Mac OS X, Red Hat, wikipedia, Blackberry, Firefox, ipod
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