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The Origins of "Bluetooth"

Modern day land surveyors are no strangers to devices which feature "bluetooth" capabilities and functions. In fact, there is a strong chance that you are either holding a bluetooth enabled device or sitting quite close to one. Nevertheless, most of us probably have no earthly idea where the odd word came from.  So, for my first post on this wonderful network, I'm going to tell you.



The word "Bluetooth" might have sounded stupid or humorous the first time you heard it.  In fact, the origins are not easily guessed, unless you are a history buff. According to Mashable, the term can be traced back to 10th century king of Denmark (958-987) and Norway (970-987), Harald Blåtand (Norwegian: Blåtann), aka Harald "Bluetooth" Gormsson. During his time, Harald [wikipedia] united Danish tribes into one single kingdom. His by-name Blåtand translates into Bluetooth, which today is known as a wireless technology, that unites different communication protocols into one universal standard.

"Bluetooth" now more commonly refers to the Bluetooth wireless specification designed by Ericsson to enable cable-free connections between computers, mobile phones, PDAs, printers, etc. Bluetooth in these devices is named after this king. The Bluetooth logo consists of the Nordic runes for his initials, H and B (Long-branch runes version).

You can read more about the Bluetooth that we know today on the wikipedia entry.

Timeline of Bluetooth History

[from the Official Bluetooth site]


  • The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) is formed with five companies.
  • The Bluetooth SIG welcomes its 400th member by the end of the year.
  • The name Bluetooth is officially adopted.


  • The Bluetooth 1.0 Specification is released.
  • The Bluetooth SIG hosts the first UnPlugFest for member engineers.
  • Bluetooth technology is awarded "Best of Show Technology Award" at COMDEX.


  • First mobile phone with Bluetooth technology.
  • First PC Card.
  • Prototype mouse and laptop demonstrated at CeBIT 2000.
  • Prototype USB dongle shown at COMDEX.
  • First chip to integrate radio frequency, baseband, microprocessor functions and Bluetooth wireless software.
  • First headset is shipped.


  • First printer.
  • First laptop.
  • First hands-free car kit.
  • First hands-free car kit with speech recognition.
  • The Bluetooth SIG, Inc. is formed as a privately-held trade association.


  • First keyboard and mouse combo.
  • First GPS receiver.
  • Bluetooth wireless qualified products now number 500.
  • IEEE approves the 802.15.1 specification to conform with Bluetooth wireless technology.
  • First digital camera.


  • First MP3 player with Bluetooth technology.
  • Bluetooth Core Specification Version 1.2 adopted by the Bluetooth SIG.
  • Shipment of Bluetooth enabled products hits rate of 1 million per week.
  • First FDA-approved medical system.


  • The Bluetooth SIG adopts Core Specification Version 2.0 Enhanced Data Rate (EDR).
  • Bluetooth technology reaches an installed base of 250 million devices.
  • Product-shipment rate surpasses 3 million per week.
  • First stereo headphones.


  • Product shipments soar to 5 million chipsets per week.
  • The Bluetooth SIG welcomes its 4,000th member.
  • The Bluetooth SIG Headquarters opens in Bellevue, WA; regional offices open in Malmo, Sweden and Hong Kong.
  • The Bluetooth SIG launches Profile Testing Suite (PTS)* Vers. 1.0, a testing and qualification tool for members developed completely in-house


  • First sunglasses.
  • First watch.
  • First picture frame.
  • Bluetooth wireless reaches an installed base of 1 billion devices.
  • Bluetooth enabled devices ship at a rate of 10 million per week.
  • Profile Tuning Suite (PTS)* testing becomes a mandatory part of the Bluetooth Qualification Process*
  • The Bluetooth SIG announces it will integrate Bluetooth technology with the WiMedia Alliance version of UWB.


  • First alarm-clock radio.
  • First television.
  • The Bluetooth SIG welcomes its 8,000th member.
  • SIGnature, the Bluetooth quarterly magazine, makes its debut at the Bluetooth SIG's All Hands Meeting in Vienna, Austria.
  • Bluetooth SIG Executive Director, Michael Foley, wins Telematics Leadership Award.
  • PTS Protocol Viewer is released as part of the release of PTS Version 2.1.1 along with a greatly updated user interface and report generation capabilities.


  • 2008 marks Bluetooth technology's 10 year anniversary - no other wireless technology has grown to be shipping nearly 2 Billion products in 10 years.
  • The Bluetooth SIG welcomes its 10,000th member.
  • Bluetooth SIG Executive Director, Michael Foley, is named one of RCR Wireless News' Mobile Movers & Shakers for 2008.
  • Profile Tuning Suite (PTS) Version 3.0 is released, including automatic updates and further improvements to its report generation capabilities


  • The Bluetooth SIG adopts Core Specification Version 3.0 HS making Bluetooth high speed technology a reality
  • The Bluetooth SIG welcomes its 12,000th member
  • The Bluetooth SIG All Hands Meeting is held in Tokyo—the first AHM in APAC
  • The Bluetooth SIG announces the adoption of Bluetooth low energy wireless technology, the hallmark feature in Bluetooth Core Specification Version 4.0.



An example of Bluetooth technology in Surveying Equipment

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