How famous tech companies got their names


Ever wondered how big tech companies like Sony got their names? While some are named after the goods they sell, and others are the results of long-forgotten company mergers, some of the world’s biggest tech brand names are just completely made up. Whatever their history, most company monikers have an interesting story behind them. This is how some of the biggest tech brands in the world got their names…

Starting out as Apple computers, the Cupertino tech giant wasn’t always quite as successful. Founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne in 1976 to develop home computers, Apple only started making smartphones and tablets much later on. But how did it get it’s name?

The story goes that Jobs really liked apples and had just come back from an apple farm when he suggested the name. What’s more, he liked Apple because it put them ahead of Job’s former employer Atari in the phonebook. In 2007, ‘Computers’ was dropped from the name and Apple went on to become one of the biggest companies on the planet.

In Korean, Samsung means ‘tristar’ or ‘three stars’, and was chosen to reflect the characteristics of stars in the night sky, being ‘big, numerous and powerful’.

Up until 1993, Samsung’s logo featured three stars, which it has since been ditched for the current blue and white badge.

Samsung’s main rival, Korean brand LG didn’t always have such a short and snappy name. Electronics company Goldstar merged with Lak-Hui (pronounced ‘Lucky’) in 1995 to produce new brand Lucky Goldstar, which was eventually shortened to LG.

In recent years the company said that the abbreviation referred to its ‘Life’s Good’ marketing slogan but now says that LG simply stands for LG.

While many company names are the result of extensive branding studies or historical mergers, some are just a complete fluke. Swedish music streaming brand Spotify supposedly got its name when founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon were brainstorming and one suggestion was misheard as ‘Spotify’.

After the founders investigated the made-up word and found that it was unique, the name stuck. Once the brand became more popular, the founders came up with a neater story that says that the word comes from ‘spot’ and ‘identify’.

The famous social network founded by Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard buddies in 1994 didn’t start out as Facebook. Its predecessor, built in 2003, was called Facemash and was designed as a ‘hot or not’ game in which students ranked the looks of their peers.

Its replacement was originally known as and was limited to universities, eventually spreading to the UK. In 2005, the company finally dropped ‘the’ to become Facebook and opened up the site to the public.

Previously known as Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo K.K (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation), or Totsuko, Sony was renamed partly after the word ‘sonus’, latin for sound. It was also influenced by the slang term ‘sonny boy’, influenced by America and used in Japan to refer to smart young men in the 1950s.

The first Sony-branded product - a transistor radio - appeared in 1955, but the company didn’t change its name to Sony until 1958.

The famous social network, which just turned 10, was originally known as twttr, inspired by Flickr. During a brain-storming session, the founders initially came up with the name Twitch and finally landed on Twitter because they thought that the dictionary definition - ‘short burst of inconsequential information’ - was rather fitting. Wisely, they put the vowels back into the word before officially launching as Twitter.

Apparently ‘FriendStalker’ was also suggested, and thankfully rejected, as a name.

Starting out as an internet search engine, Google famously takes its name from a misspelling of the word ‘googol’. This is the mathematical term for a 1 followed by a hundred zeros and was chosen by founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to convey the massive amount of information that they intended to provide access to.

The search engine that Google became was originally named ‘Backrub’. The founders very wisely changed it before registering a domain name.

Established by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975, the Microsoft brand name was created as portmanteau of ‘microprocessor’ and ‘software’ and was originally hyphenated as Micro-Soft.

Famously founded in 1994 as Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web, Yahoo was renamed in 1995.

Ignoring the normal definition or yahoo as ‘ a rude, noisy or violent person’ founders Jerry Yang and David Filo formed the company name as an acronym, standing for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.

(Image credit: Apple, Spotify, Samsung, Sony, Facebook, Twitter)