History Behind the Names of Popular Tech Companies


It was the favorite fruit of Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, who was three months late in filing the name for his company. He threatened to call his company Apple Computers, if the other colleagues didn’t suggest a better name by 5 o’clock. This name helped Apple to distance itself from the other cold, unapproachable, complicated image created by other computers like IBM, DEC and Cincom.


The company was founded in San Francisco by Len Bosack, Sandy Lerner, and Richard Triano. The name was derived from the name of the city, San Francisco. Thus, the company’s engineers insisted on using the lower case “cisco” in the early days.


The company was founded in 1982 by Rod Canion, Jim Harris, and Bill Murto (who were senior managers in a semiconductor manufacturer Texas Instruments. The name “COMPAQ” was said to be derived from “Compatibility and Quality”, but it was a name suggested by a name consulting company on several occasions and it was the one which was not rejected.


Sergey Brin and Larry Page had originally nicknamed their search engine “BackRub” as the system checked backlinks (any link received by a web node from another web node), to estimate the importance of a site. Eventually, they changed the name to Google, which originated from a misspelling of the word “googol” (the number one followed by one hundred zeros). The name was picked to signify the large quantities of information the search engine wanted to provide to the people.


Hotmail was founded by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith, and was commercially launched in 1966. The name “Hotmail”, was chosen out of many possibilities ending in ‘-mail’, as it included the letters HTML (the encoding language used by the World Wide Web). Thus, to emphasize it, the original type casing was “HoTMaiL“.

Hewlett Packard

The company was founded in Palo Alto, California by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. Packard and Hewlett decided the name of the company (Packard-Hewlett or Hewlett-Packard) by tossing a coin, which Packard won. But, Packard decided to name the company “the Hewlett Packard Company“, and the company was incorporated in 1947.


Intel was founded in 1968 in Mountain View, California by Gordon E. Moore, Robert Noyce, and Arthur Rock. Moore and Noyce wanted to call the company “Moore Noyce”, but the name was a homophone for “More Noise“. Noise in electronics refers to bad interference and is very undesirable. Hence, they used the name “NM Electronics“ for almost a year before they finalized on “Integrated Electronics-(Intel)” for short. The name “Intel” was already trademarked by “Intelco“, a chain of hotels; thus, they had to buy the rights for the name.


Lotus was founded in 1982 by Mitch Kapor and Jonathan Sachs. The name was derived from “The Lotus Position” or “Padmasana“, by Kapor, who was a teacher of Transcendental Meditation of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Thus, the name “Lotus” referred to the three ways the product could be used as a spreadsheet, graphics package, and database manager.


Microsoft was founded by Paul Allen and Bill Gates, who wanted to use a name to represent the company’s devotion to MICROcomputer SOFTware, and named the company “Micro-Soft“. The ‘‘ was later removed to form “Microsoft“.


Victrola was an internal horn machine, designed by Eldridge R. Johnson, which was later acquired by its Canadian counterpart, Berliner Gramophone of Canada in 1924. William (Bill) Lear and Elmer Wavering “both employees of Galvin Manufacturing Company“developed the first practical car radio, which was named “Motorola” by Paul Galvin (the name is a combination of “Motor” and “Victrola“). Paul Galvin purchased the patents to the automotive radio and acquired the rights to their trade name “Motorola“.

  • Cisco v. Apple: Whose iPhone is it anyway? (legalzoom.com)
  • A Brand by Any Other Name: The Stories Behind Iconic Business Names (legalzoom.com)
  • A Brand by Any Other Name…The Stories Behind Iconic Business Names (legalzoom.com)

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