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Ivan's picture

How famous companies were named

Apple Computers

Favourite fruit of founder Steve Jobs. He was three months late in filing a name for the business, and he threatened to call his company Apple Computers if the other colleagues didn't suggest a better name by 5 o'clock.


The word was invented by Jonathan Swift and used in his book Gulliver's Travels. It represents a person who is repulsive in appearance and action and is barely human. Yahoo! founders Jerry Yang and David Filo selected the name because they considered themselves yahoos.


The Greek root "xer" means dry. The inventor, Chestor Carlson , named his product Xerox as it was dry copying, markedly different from the then prevailing wet copying.

Sun Microsystems

Founded by four Stanford University buddies, Sun is the acronym for Stanford University Network.


From the Latin word 'sonus' meaning sound, and 'sonny' a slang used by Americans to refer to a bright youngster.


"Systems, Applications, Products in Data Processing", formed by four ex-IBM employees who used to work in the 'Systems/Applications/Projects' group of IBM.

Red Hat

Company founder Marc Ewing was given the Cornell lacrosse team cap (with red and white stripes) while at college by his grandfather. He lost it and had to search for it desperately. The manual of the beta version of Red Hat Linux had an appeal to readers to return his Red Hat if found by anyone!


Larry Ellison and Bob Oats were working on a consulting project for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The code name for the project was called Oracle (the CIA saw this as the system to give answers to all questions or something such).


Founder Paul Galvin came up with this name when his company started manufacturing radios for cars. The popular radio company at the time was called Victrola.


It was coined by Bill Gates to represent the company that was devoted to MICROcomputer SOFTware. Originally christened Micro-Soft, the '-' was removed later on.


Mitch Kapor got the name for his company from the lotus position or 'padmasana.' Kapor used to be a teacher of Transcendental Meditation of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.


Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore wanted to name their new company ' Moore Noyce' but that was already trademarked by a hotel chain, so they had to settle for an acronym of INTegrated ELectronics.


Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard tossed a coin to decide whether the company they founded would be called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlett.


Founder Jack Smith got the idea of accessing email via the web from a computer anywhere in the world. When Sabeer Bhatia came up with the business plan for the mail service, he tried all kinds of names ending in 'mail' and finally settled for Hotmail as it included the letters "html" - the programming language used to write web pages. It was initially referred to as HoTMaiL with selective upper casings.


The name started as a jockey boast about the amount of information the search-engine would be able to search. It was originally named 'Googol', a word for the number represented by 1 followed by 100 zeros. After founders - Stanford graduate students Sergey Brin and Larry Page presented their project to an angel investor, they received a cheque made out to 'Google


The name is not an acronym but an abbreviation of San Francisco . The company's logo reflects its San Francisco name heritage. It represents a stylized Golden Gate Bridge .


It got its name because its founders got started by applying patches to code written for NCSA's httpd daemon. The result was 'A PAtCHy' server - thus, the name Apache.


The name came from the river Adobe Creek that ran behind the house of founder John Warnock.

Thanks to: Dennis Massey, Brand Master, Logo Creator, IDEAZDEN

Commenting on this Blog entry will be automatically closed on March 13, 2010.'s picture
532 pencils

Haha, awesome list, thanks for that. Very interesting, because most people didn't even know how successful the name was going to be.

alanclarkdesign's picture
126 pencils

Great post Ivan! I agree with Jack - really interesting to see the origins on some of the names, even more so the thinking behind them.

steveballmer's picture
653 pencils

Microsoft got it's name from the nickname one of Bill's old girlfriends called him.
I am not Steve Ballmer pretending not to be me!

automatik's picture
26 pencils

rofl at steveballmers comment ahah love that site

steveballmer's picture
653 pencils

There just may be hope for you!
I am not Steve Ballmer pretending not to be me!

ThinkAdrian's picture
4 pencils

I'm sorry, but Apple Inc. were called "Apple Computer" - in singular.
HTML is not a programming language, since you can't build programs with it.

Post by Design by Design by Adrian Ltd -

steveballmer's picture
653 pencils

They get everything wrong here son!
I am not Steve Ballmer pretending not to be me!

Cookie Creative's picture
97 pencils

And now to the bonus round:

    5 points for the person who correctly answer the following:
    - What was the concept behind the 'Apple' logo?
steveballmer's picture
653 pencils

Steve Jobs had worked during the summer at an apple farm, and admired the Beatles' record label, Apple. He also believed Apples to be the most perfect fruit. He and Steve Wozniak were trying to figure out a name for their new company, and they decided that if they couldn't think of one by the end of the day that was better than Apple, they would choose Apple. They couldn't think of anything better, so on April 1, 1976, Apple Computer, Inc. was born.

But they needed a logo. The first design included Sir Isaac Newton, a tree and a banner that said "Apple Computer." Jobs decided they needed a less busy logo, one that would signify a brand. The second logo attempt was very similar to the current logo, but without the bite taken out of it. Jobs thought this logo looked too much like an orange. The third attempt was the logo that Apple still uses.
I am not Steve Ballmer pretending not to be me!

3dogmama's picture
1987 pencils

Know thine enemy.
Very good, Mr. B. Your own words?

"Art -- the one achievement of Man which has made the long trip up from all fours seem well advised." - James Thurber

steveballmer's picture
653 pencils

You people asked for the answer, I gave it!

Where's my 5 points?
I am not Steve Ballmer pretending not to be me!

serbancosmin's picture
3 pencils

Googol would rule the internet as much as Google does. :)

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