May is a month for celebrating. We recently commemorated “Better Hearing and Speech Month” with a post describing five useful smartphone apps for hearing and speech impaired individuals. Now we’d like to recognize “National Inventor’s Month” with an ode to Sven Mattisson and Jaap Haartsen, the inventors of Bluetooth technology.
Photo courtesy of gandhiappliances.com
This illustrious Bluetooth history
takes us back to the mid-1990’s. The leading technology companies agreed to the need for a standard way to connect devices wirelessly, regardless of their make and model. Representative of IBM, Intel, Toshiba, and Nokia, converged on Lund, Sweden, the home of Ericcson, to form Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG).
Mattisson and Haartsen, both of Ericcson, developed the Bluetooth specification, which is based on “frequency-hopping spread spectrum,” and are thus credited as the inventors. The most compelling part of the story, however, is how Bluetooth came to be known as Bluetooth.
Photo courtesy of neatorama.com
According to Jim Kardach, who ran Bluetooth SIG until 2001, Intel called their short-range wireless technologies program “Biz-RF.” Ericsson’s program was “MC-Link,” and Nokia had “Low Power RF.” These different—and unremarkable—names created confusion, and it became clear they needed to develop a single name.
Bluetooth allegedly came to be during a pub-crawl on a blustery Toronto night. Mattisson and Kardach, who represented Intel at the time, were drowning their sorrows after early proposals of “Biz-RF” and “MC-Link” were rejected by the early SIG, when Mattisson shared a story about the Viking King Harald Bluetooth.
Bluetooth had united warring factions in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, much like Bluetooth technology would unite different technology made by Intel, Ericsson, Nokia, Toshiba and any of Bluetooth SIG’s 16,000 current member companies. Marketing men threw around different names, including “Flirt—getting close, but not touching,” but Bluetooth stuck.
So, today, we pay homage to the pioneers Vikings of Bluetooth technology. Without these fearless nerds, the ZOMM Wireless Leash could not exist and you and your phone would be forever-warring factions.