Famous IT names and their origins || Very Useful
Apple Computers – Favorite fruit of founder Steve
Jobs. He was three months late in filing a name for
business, and he threatened to call his company Apple
Computers if the other colleagues didn’t suggest a
better name by 5 o’clock.
C – Dennis Ritchie improved on the B programming
language and called it ‘New B’. He later called it C.
Earlier B was created by Ken Thompson as a revision of
the Bon programming language (named after his wife
C++ – Bjarne Stroustrup called his new language ‘C
with Classes’ and then ‘new C’. Because of which the
original C began to be called ‘old C’ which was
considered insulting to the C community. At this time
Rick Mascitti suggested the name C++ as a successor to
CISCO – its not an acronymn but the short for San
Compaq – using COMp, for computer, and PAQ to denote a
small integral object.
CorEL – from the founder’s name Dr. Michael Cowpland.
It stands for COwpland REsearch Laboratory.
GNU – a species of African antelope. Founder of the
GNU project Richard Stallman liked the name because of
the humour associated with its pronuniciation and was
also influenced by the children’s song ‘The Gnu Song’
which is a song sung by a gnu. Also it fitted into the
recursive acronym culture with ‘GNU’s Not Unix’.
Google – the name started as a jokey 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.
Afterfounders – Stanford grad students Sergey Brin and
Larry Page presented their project to an angel
investor, they received a cheque made out to ‘Google’!
HCL – Hindustan Computers Ltd. started by Shiv Nadar.
Hotmail – Founder Jack Smith got the idea of accessing e-mail 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 casing.
HP – Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard tossed a coin to
decide whether the company they founded would be
called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlett.
Intel – 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.
Java – Originally called Oak by creator James Gosling,
from the tree that stood outside his window, the
programming team had to look for a substitute as there
was another language with the same name. Java was
selected from a list of suggestions. It came from the
name of the coffee that the programmers drank.
LG – combination of two popular Korean brands Lucky
Linux – Linus Torvalds originally used the Minix OS on
his system which he replaced by his OS. Hence the
working name was Linux (Linus’ Minix).He thought the
name to be too egotistical and planned to name it
Freax(free +freak + x). His friend Ari Lemmke
encouraged Linus to upload it to a network so it could
be easily downloaded.
Ari gave Linus a directory called linux on his FTP
server, as he did not like the name Freax. (Linus’
parents named him after two-time Nobel Prize winner
Lotus (Notes) – 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.
Microsoft – coined by Bill Gates to represent the
company that was devoted to MICROcomputer SOFTware.
Originally christened Micro-Soft, the ‘-‘was removed
Motorola – Founder Paul Galvin came up with this name
when his company started manufacturing radios for
The popular radio company at the time was called
Mozilla – When Marc Andreesen, founder of Netscape,
created a broswer to replace Mosaic (also developed by
him), it was named Mozilla (Mosaic-Killer, Godzilla).
The marketing guys didn’t like the name however and it
was re-christened Netscape Navigator.
ORACLE – Larry Ellison and Bob Oats were working on a
consulting project for the CIA (Central Intelligence
Agency). 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). The project was
designed to help use the newly written SQL code by
The project eventually was terminated but Larry
and Bob decided to finish what they started and bring
it to the world. They kept the name Oracle and created
the RDBMS engine. Later they kept the same name for
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 !
SAP – “Systems, Applications, Products in Data
Processing”, formed by 4 ex-IBM employees who used to
work in the ‘Systems/Applications/Projects’ group of
SCO (UNIX) – from Santa Cruz Operation. The company’s
office was in SantaCruz.
Sony – from the Latin word ‘sonus’ meaning sound, and
‘sonny’ a slang used by Americans to refer to a bright
SUN – founded by 4 Stanford University buddies, SUN is
the acronym for Stanford University Network. Andreas
Bechtolsheim built a microcomputer;
Vinod Khosla recruited him and Scott McNealy to
manufacture computers based on it, and Bill Joy to
develop a UNIX-based OS for the computer.
UNIX – When Bell Labs pulled out of MULTICS
(MULTiplexed Information and Computing System), which
was originally a joint Bell/GE/MIT project, Ken
Thompson and Dennis
Ritchie of Bell Labs wrote a simpler version of
the OS.They needed the OS to run the game Space War
which was compiled under MULTICS. It was called UNICS
UNIplexed operating and Computing System by Brian
Kernighan. It was later shortened to UNIX.
Xerox – The inventor, Chestor Carlson, named his
product trying to say ‘dry’ (as it was dry copying,
markedly different from the then prevailing wet
copying). The Greek root ‘xer’ means dry.
Yahoo! – 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
3M – Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company
started off by mining the material corundum used to
Apache – It got its name because its founders got
started by applying patches to code written for NCSA’s
The result was ‘APAtCHy’ server-thus, the name Apache
Jakarta (project from Apache) – A project
constituted by SUN and Apache to create a webserver
handling servlets and JSPs.
Jakarta was name of the conference room at SUN where
most of the meetings between SUN and Apache tookplace.
Tomcat – The servlet part of the Jakarta project.
Tomcat was the code-name for the JSDK 2.1 project