How 10 Famous Technology Products Got Their Names

From iPod and BlackBerry to Twitter and Wikipedia, we take a look at the processes and people who came up with the names for these iconic tech products.

Wikipedia: Just What It Sounds Like

Wikipedia: Just What It Sounds Like

Wikipedia: Just What It Sounds Like

According to Wikipedia, the name Wikipedia is a portmanteau of wiki (a technology for creating collaborative websites) and encyclopedia (you remember, those large books that, as kids, we ruthlessly plagiarized for school book reports). FYI: a portmanteau is a fancy way of saying that we're going to take two words, jam them together and (hopefully) create a new concept that people will love. So far, so good. In an illustration of the axiom "the more things change the more they stay the same": Today, kids and adults now ruthlessly plagiarize Wikipedia instead of encyclopedias.

Mac OS X and "The Big Cats": Catlike Sleekness and Style

Apple's popular Mac operating system X actually denotes the Roman numeral 10, since it is the OS's tenth release, following Mac OS 9. To the ire of Apple fanboys, many people do refer to it as letter 'X.' More interesting have been the "big cat" code names assigned to each succeeding X release that have stuck with Apple's marketing: Cheetah (10.0), Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger and current kitty Leopard. Snow Leopard has been assigned for the 10.6 release, with rumors that Lynx and Cougar are in the works.

Red Hat Linux: A Name Rich with Meaning

Cofounder Bob Young has given multidimensional origins of the red fedora name:

  • 1. It was named after red, which in Western history is "the symbol of liberation and challenge of authority."
  • 2. Cofounder Marc Ewing wore his grandfather's red Cornell lacrosse hat in college and became known for this tech expertise--those with problems went to see the guy in the red hat.
  • 3. Ewing named his software projects Red Hat 1, Red Hat 2 and so on. "So, when he started his Linux project, he just named it Red Hat Linux," Young said. All righty then!

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