This is a list of company names with their name origins explained. Some origins are disputed.
Adobe – came from name of the river Adobe Creek that ran behind the house of founder John Warnock.
Apache – 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.
Apple – 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 his colleagues didn’t suggest a better name by 5pm. Apple’s Macintosh is named after a popular variety of apple sold in the US.
Canon – from Kwanon the Buddhist god of mercy. The name was changed to Canon to avoid offending religious groups.
Casio – from the name of its founder, Kashio Tadao who had set up the company Kashio Seisakujo as a subcontractor factory.
Cisco – its not an acronymn but its the short for San Francisco.
Compaq – using Comp, for computer, and paq to denote a small integral object.
Corel – from the founder’s name Dr. Michael Cowpland. It stands for COwpland REsearch Laboratory.
Daewoo – the company founder Kim Woo Chong called it Daewoo which means “Great Universe” in Korean.
Exxon – a name contrived by Esso (Standard Oil of New Jersey) in the early 70s to create a neutral but distinctive label for the company. Within days of announcement of the name, Exxon was being called the “double cross company ” but this eventually subsided.
Fuji – from the highest Japanese mountain Mount Fuji
Google – the name started as a jokey boast about the amount of information the search-engine would be able to search. It was originally named ‘Googol’, a word for the number represented by 1 followed by 100 zeros. After founders – Stanford grad students Sergey Brin and Larry Page presented their project to an angel investor, they received a cheque made out to ‘Google’ !
HP – Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard tossed a coin to decide whether the company they founded would be called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlett.
Hitachi – stands for “sunrise” in Japanese.
Honda – from the name of its founder, Soichiro Honda
Honeywell – from the name of Mark Honeywell founder of Honeywell Heating Specialty Co. It later merged with Minneapolis Heat Regulator Company and was finally called Honeywell Inc. in 1963.
Hotmail – Founder Jack Smith got the idea of accessing e-mail 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 markup language used to write web pages. It was initially referred to as HoTMaiL with selective upper casing.
Hyundai – means “present time” in Korean.
IBM – started by an ex employee of National Cash Register. To one-up them in all respects he called his company International Business Machines.
Intel – 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.
Kawasaki – from the name of its founder, Shozo Kawasaki
Kodak – Both the Kodak camera and the name were the invention of founder George Eastman. The letter “K” was a favourite with Eastman; he felt it a strong and incisive letter. He tried out various combinations of words starting and ending with “K”. He saw three advantages in the name. It had the merits of a trademark word, would not be mis-pronounced and the name did not resemble anything in the art. There is a misconception that the name was chosen because of its similarity to the sound produced by the shutter of the camera.
Konica – it was earlier known as Konishiroku Kogaku. Konishiroku in turn is the short for Konishiya Rokubeiten which was the first name of the company established by Rokusaburo Sugiura in the 1850s.
LG – combination of two popular Korean brands Lucky and Goldstar.
Lotus – Mitch Kapor got the name for his company from ‘The Lotus Position’ or ‘Padmasana’. Kapor used to be a teacher of Transcendental Meditation technique as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Microsoft – coined by Bill Gates to represent the company that was devoted to MICROcomputer SOFTware. Originally christened Micro-Soft, the ‘-‘ was removed later on.
Mitsubishi – name coined by founder Yataro Iwasaki in 1870. It means “three diamonds” in Japanese. The three diamonds also make up the company’s logo.
Motorola – Founder Paul Galvin came up with this name when his company started manufacturing radios for carss. Many audio equiptment makers of the era used the “ola” ending for their products, most famously the “Victrola” phonograph made by the Victor Talking Machine Company.
Mozilla Foundation – From the name of the web-browser that succeeded Netscape Navigator. When Marc Andreesen, founder of Netscape, created a browser to replace the Mosaic browser, it was internally named Mozilla (Mosaic-Killer, Godzilla).
Nabisco – Formerly The National Biscuit Company, changed in 1971 to Nabisco.
Nikon – the original name was Nippon Kogaku, meaning “Japanese Optical”.
Nintendo – Nintendo is composed of 3 Japanese Kanji characters, Nin-ten-do which can be translated to “Heaven blesses hard work”
Nissan – the company was earlier known by the name Nichon Sangio which means “Japanese industry”.
Nokia – started as a wood-pulp mill, the company expanded into producing rubber products in the Finnish city of Nokia. The company later adopted the city’s name.
Novell – Novell, Inc. was earlier Novell Data Systems co-founded by George Canova. The name was suggested by George’s wife who mistakenly thought that “Novell” meant “new” in French.
Oracle – Larry Ellison and Bob Oats were working on a consulting project for the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). The code name for the project was called Oracle (the CIA saw this as the system to give answers to all questions or some such). The project was designed to help use the newly written SQL database language from IBM. The project eventually was terminated but Larry and Bob decided to finish what they started and bring it to the world. They kept the name Oracle and created the RDBMS engine. Later they kept the same name for the company.
Red Hat – Company founder Marc Ewing was given the Cornell lacrosse team cap (with red and white stripes) while at college by his grandfather. People would turn to him to solve their problems, and he was referred to as ‘that guy in the red hat’. He lost the cap 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.
Sanyo – The Japanese translation is disputed, although the Chinese name is “ä¸‰æ´‹” (literally, “Three Oceans”)
SAP – “Systems, Applications, Productss in Data Processing”, formed by 4 ex-IBM employees who used to work in the ‘Systems/Applications/Projects’ group of IBM.
SCO – from Santa Cruz Operation. The company’s office was in Santa Cruz, California. It became the eventually licensor for Unix (via Unix Systems Labs and then Novell), and eventually went bankrupt. The assets were purchased by Caldera Inc (itself a spin off of Novell) and Caldera changed its own name back to SCO. It is this SCO which has sued IBM and others, asserting its ownership of the copyright to Unix source code.
Siemens – founded in 1847 by Werner von Siemens.
Sony – from the Latin word ‘sonus’ meaning sound, and ‘sonny’ a slang used by Americans to refer to a bright youngster.
Subaru – from the Japanese name for the star cluster known to Westerners as Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. This star cluster features on the company’s logo.
SUN – founded by 4 Stanford University buddies, SUN is the acronym for Stanford University Network.
Suzuki – from the name of its founder, Michio Suzuki
Tesco – Founder Jack Cohen, who from 1919 sold groceries in the markets of the London East End, acquired a large shipment of tea from T. E. Stockwell and made new labels by using the first three letters of the supplier’s name and the first two letters of his surname forming the word “TESCO”.
Toshiba – was founded by the merger of consumer goods company Tokyo Denki (Tokyo Electric Co) and electrical firm Shibaura Seisaku-sho (Shibaura Engineering Works).
Toyota – from the founder’s name Sakichi Toyoda. Initially called Toyeda, it was changed after a contest for a better-sounding name. The new name was written in eight Japanese letters, a number that is considered lucky in Japan.
Xerox – The inventor, Chestor Carlson, named his product trying to say `dry’ (as it was dry copying, markedly different from the then prevailing wet copying). The Greek root `xer’ means dry.
Yahoo – 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. However, Yahoo! today claims a sort of backformed acronym — Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.
3M – Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company started off by mining the material corundum used to make sandpaper.