In the modern world we occupy, tech company names like Google, Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, and others have become a major part of our daily life and conversations. Some of them, like Google, become synonymous with the act itself. If you need to search something, you “just Google it,” which is much like what happened with Xerox when copiers came into vogue.
But have you ever stopped to consider where some of these names come from, and what they mean? Take a look!
Where did the name Google come from?
As we all know, this company has pretty much redefined how people get things done on a day-to-day basis. But Google wasn’t its original name. According to Google corporate history, Stanford students Larry Page and Sergei Brin created a search engine and called it “BackRub.” Their first logo was Larry Page’s hand.
The name Google is a play on the mathematical term googol, which is a one followed by 100 zeros—and it was a total accident. As the story goes, Page was in his Stanford office with some other grad students. One of them, Sean Anderson, suggested “Googolplex,” and Page liked the shortened version, “Googol.” Anderson then did a domain name search, but spelled it “Google,” and that domain was available. Page snagged it, and that got the ball rolling.
Where did the name Yahoo come from?
Like Google, this venerable (and beleaguered) web portal was created in January of 1994 by a pair of Stanford grad students, Jerry Yang and David Filo. Original name: “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.” Just a few months later, they changed the name to Yahoo. The backcronym for this is “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.” Supposedly, the creators liked the word Yahoo as coined by Jonathan Swift in 1926 for Gulliver’s Travels. The word can mean an “uncultivated or boorish person; lout; philistine; yokel.”
Where did the name eBay come from?
Another website that has changed the way people buy and sell online, eBay’s name is merely a shortened version of the founder’s first choice. When Pierre Omidyar was launching the site, it was owned by his consulting firm, Echo Bay Technology Group. However, when he tried for that domain name, it was already taken by Echo Bay Mines, a gold mining company. So he just shortened it to his second choice, eBay.
Where did the name Apple come from?
The definitive Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson has the answer to this one. According to the bio, Jobs named the company Apple when he was on “one of [his] fruitarian diets.” After a visit to an apple farm, Jobs thought to himself “the name sounded ‘fun, spirited and not intimidating.'”
Whether you find apples intimidating or otherwise is a personal inclination, but either way, the name isn’t going anywhere. It’s particularly fascinating when a brand takes a word, especially an unrelated noun, that already has a definition and reinvents it.
Where did the name Amazon come from?
The ubiquitous e-tailer was almost called “Cadabra” from “Abracadabra.” Mashable says Bezos then went with “Amazon” after his lawyer thought he said “Cadaver,” which would easily have gone down as the worst start-up name ever. Supposedly, the name Amazon was selected because it suggests a large scale, and since website listings were often A-Z back in the day, Amazon would be towards the top of the list. Bezos considered calling it “Relentless” (meaning “that does not relent“) but friends thought that was “sinister.” Bezos bought the domain Relentless.com anyway, and it still redirects to Amazon. Bonus fact: the smile in their logo refers to the fact they sell everything from A to Z.
Where did the name Skype come from?
When the makers of this popular video chat program were trying to come up with a name, they came up with “Sky peer to peer.” That was shortened to “Skyper” but that domain was taken. You see a pattern? If you have an idea for a new product, grab the domain before you’ve even made the product! So Skype.com it was.
Where did the name Bing come from?
When Microsoft was in the process of revamping their search engine, the name “Bang” came up. But that one wouldn’t have played well as a verb. (Example: “What other movies has Kathy Bates been in?” “I don’t know. Bang her and find out!”) Yikes. So Bing it was, and besides, it sounds a little bit like “Bingo.”
Have you thought about what goes into a name itself? Read about the rules behind baby names!