Bluetooth

In my trawl through the lexicon of techspeak, acronyms and jargon, I sometimes come across a genuinely interesting titbit of information. Bluetooth was, I’d always imagined, named partly in honour of one the original partners in the Bluetooth Special Interests Group, that little know tech start-up company IBM - often dubbed Big Blue.

It turns out Bluetooth was, in fact, named after King Harold Bluetooth of Denmark, a 10th century monarch who was apparently a consummate diplomat, skilled at engaging in dialogue with warring parties to urge them to negotiate.

Today’s Bluetooth is, of course, a wireless standard that allows all manner of devices, from mobile phones to PCs, to communicate with each other. For a dictionary definition check out this link.

The Bluetooth standard was originally developed by Ericsson, which might explain the Scandinavian moniker, and was launched on an unsuspecting public in 1999 by the aforementioned Bluetooth Special Interests Group. Since then, it has proved to be an exceptionally useful tool for facilitating the communication between devices.

Gone are the days when I had to line up mine and my friends mobile phones so that we could exchange pictures or numbers by boring old infrared. These days we can do it all by Bluetooth, and that makes us feel really up to date and ever so slightly cool, in a geeky way.

These days, the watchword does seem to be compatibility. Devices that can speak to each other in a language both can understand.

This is very different from the world in which I grew up in, where you were either a ZX Spectrum or Commodore 64 owner and, no matter how much you tried, there was no way your mates killer software would run on your machine.

In those days it was all about competing formats, Mac Vs PC, VHS versus Beta. A corporate Darwinism where only the strongest survives (though not necessarily the best, as VHS’s triumph demonstrated).

These days it seems to be that you’re more likely to want to own your competitors rather than crush them. King Harold would undoubtedly have been pleased, but it does seem to take the spice out of the market somewhat.