Where These Internet Pioneers Got Their Names

Yahoo! Sony, Motorola, RedHat, Oracle, Google, etc. These names are mentioned everyday in the technology world. These guys were among the top in the technology and Internet business industry. Here’s an interesting fact: we know who they are and what they do, but we might not know how they settled with their brand name and the story behind it unless we really dig hard into the history books.

Here are 18 Internet giants (inclusive of Yahoo, Xerox, Sun Microsystem, Sony, SAP, Red Hat, Oracle, Motorola, Lotus, Intel, Hewlett Packard, Hotmail, Google, Cisco, Apple Computers, Apache and Adobe) and stories on how they end up with their names.


The word was invented by Jonathan Swift and used in his book Gulliver’s Travels. It represents a person who is repulsive in appearance and action, and is barely human. Yahoo! founders Jerry Yang and David Filo selected the name because they considered themselves yahoos.

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The Greek root “xer” means dry. The inventor, Chestor Carlson, named his product Xerox as it was dry copying, markedly different from the then prevailing wet copying.

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Sun Microsystems

Founded by four Stanford University buddies, Sun is the acronym for Stanford University Network.

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From the Latin word ‘sonus’ meaning sound, and ‘sonny’ a slang used by Americans to refer to a bright youngster.

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Systems, Applications, Products in Data Processing”, formed by four ex-IBM employees who used to work in the ‘Systems/Applications/Projects’ group of IBM.

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Red Hat

Company founder Marc Ewing was given the Cornell lacrosse team cap (with red and white stripes) while at college by his grandfather. He lost it and had to search for it desperately. The manual of the beta version of Red Hat Linux had an appeal to readers to return his Red Hat if found by anyone!


Larry Ellison and Bob Oats were working on a consulting project for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The code name for the project was called Oracle (the CIA saw this as the system to give answers to all questions or something like that).

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Founder Paul Galvin came up with this name when his company started manufacturing radios for cars. The popular radio company at the time was called Victrola.

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It was coined by Bill Gates to represent the company that was devoted to MICROcomputer SOFTware. Originally christened Micro-Soft, the hyphen was removed later on.

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Mitch Kapor got the name for his company from the lotus position or ‘padmasana.’ Kapor used to be a teacher of Transcendental Meditation of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

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Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore wanted to name their new company ‘Moore Noyce’ but that was already trademarked by a hotel chain, so they had to settle for an acronym of INTegrated ELectronics.

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Hewlett Packard

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard tossed a coin to decide whether the company they founded would be called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlett. Guess who won.

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Founder Jack Smith got the idea of accessing email via the web from a computer anywhere in the world. When Sabeer Bhatia came up with the business plan for the mail service, he tried all kinds of names ending in ‘mail’ and finally settled for Hotmail as it included the letters “html” – the programming language used to write web pages. It was initially referred to as HoTMaiL with selective upper casings.

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It was originally named ‘Googol’, a word for the number represented by 1 followed by 100 zeros. After founders, Stanford graduate students Sergey Brin and Larry Page, presented their project to an angel investor, they received a cheque made out to ‘Google’. To cash the check, they changed their company name to Google.

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The name is not an acronym but an abbreviation of San Francisco. The company’s logo reflects its San Francisco name heritage. It represents a stylized Golden Gate Bridge.

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Apple Computers

Favourite fruit of founder Steve Jobs. He was three months late in filing a name for the business, and he threatened to call his company Apple Computers if the other colleagues didn’t suggest a better name by 5 o’clock.

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It got its name because its founders got started by applying patches to code written for NCSA’s httpd daemon. The result was ‘A PAtCHy’ server; thus, the name Apache.

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The name came from the river Adobe Creek that ran behind the house of founder John Warnock.

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