The seven founders of Bluetooth technology have just celebrated its 25th anniversary by visiting the Viking site in Denmark that helped inspire its name.

When American engineer Jim Kardach from Intel was looking for a name for the new technology he and his team had invented, he recalled a conversation with his Swedish counterpart at Ericsson, Sven Mattisson. 

The major technology companies Intel, Ericsson, Nokia, and Toshiba had worked together in the 1990s to create a common standard for wireless transmission between computers and mobile phones. 

The seven pioneers behind Bluetooth technology honored its 25th anniversary by gathering at the very Viking site in Denmark that influenced its unique name. Photo: Kongernes Jelling

In beer veritas 

Mattisson had traveled all the way to Toronto in 1997 to meet Kardach and present their ideas during a one-hour strategy meeting at a seminar.

At the time, their project received little acclaim.

After the meeting, the two decided to drown their sorrows at a bar in downtown Toronto and discovered each other's mutual interest in Viking history. 

The main topic of conversation was an important historical figure in Scandinavia in the tenth century, the king of Denmark known as Harald Blåtann or Bluetooth, a nickname derived from the poor state of his teeth or his fondness for blueberries. 

During Bluetooth's reign, Denmark shifted away from pagan beliefs and Norse gods, gradually converting to Christianity. 

However, Bluetooth is perhaps most renowned for uniting parts of Norway and Denmark. 

The drinking partners saw parallels between this adept Viking communicator and the wireless connectivity they aimed to develop, linking PCs with the mobile industry. 

Bluetooth technology was launched in 1998, and the first consumer device equipped with it came to the market in 1999. 

The Bluetooth technology founders celebrated a dual legacy: their invention's 25th anniversary and the unveiling of an exhibition that bridges the story of Bluetooth with a thousand years of Viking history. Photo: Kongernes Jelling

Jelling celebrations 

Harald Bluetooth had proclaimed his achievement by announcing it in the most direct form of communication he knew: the largest runestone in the world

The runestone stands in Jelling, which is today a branch of the National Museum of Denmark

This visitor and experience center, Kongernes Jelling – Home of the Viking Kings, is the centerpiece of the monument complex around Jelling Church. 

Here, an exhibition titled Bluetooth is Coming Home has just opened to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the short-range wireless technology and the 1,000 years of Viking history that unfolded at this very spot. 

The exhibition will run until this time next year. 

For this week's opening, the museum invited seven of the founding members, formerly of Intel, Ericsson, and Nokia, including Kardach, to officially unveil the display. 

They also participated in a workshop with local high school students, signed copies of a new comic book titled "Bluetooth Viking and Technology," and, in honor of that legendary Toronto drinking session, retired to the village pub for a Viking feast. 

The name "Bluetooth" had only been intended as a placeholder until the marketing department could come up with a better one. But Bluetooth stuck with the public, who have been using it to connect their electronic devices ever since. 

The Bluetooth logo is, in fact, composed of two runic characters representing H and B, symbolizing Harald Bluetooth, the Viking king whose legacy extends to the contemporary world of wireless technology. 

Location: Kongernes Jelling – Home of the Viking Kings, Gormsgade 23, 7300 Jelling, Denmark. (Entrance towards Vestergade)
Open: Winter Tue-Sun 10 am-4 pm, Summer daily 10 am-5 pm
Admission: Free 

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