How the world’s biggest tech companies got their names

The name of a company becomes synonymous with its brand and reputation.

The mere mention of a name like Apple or Amazon immediately connects one’s mind to their products and services – but how did the world’s biggest tech companies get their names?

Below is a list of the industry’s biggest players, along with insight into how they received their names.


Samsung

According to Samsung’s founder Lee Byung-Chul, Samsung is a name comprised of two Korean words – Sam and Sung.

Sam is the Korean word for “three”, while Sung means “stars” – combined, this makes “three stars”.

In Korea, the “three” represents something “big, numerous, or powerful.”

The concept of “three stars” represents a company that is large and strong, while shining forever.

Samsung logo


Apple

In an interview recorded for company employees in the 1980s, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak explained why they chose the name Apple.

Wozniak said they were driving down a highway when Jobs suggested the name “Apple Computer.”

They tried to think of a better name, but nothing stood out to them.

Job also said that Apple was an attractive name because it got the company ahead of Atari – the computing business Jobs had worked for – in the phonebook.

Apple logo


Huawei

According to Multinational Management: A Casebook on Asia’s Global Market Leaders, written by Rien Segers, Huawei can be translated to either “splendid act” or “China is able.”

Hua can either mean “splendid” or “China”, while Wei means either an action or an achievement.

Huawei considered changing its name as it became a prominent force globally, but decided to keep it.

New Huawei Logo


LG

Many may believe that LG stands for “Life’s Good,” but this slogan is not its name.

LG’s electronics section was founded as “GoldStar” and was a major player in the development of new technologies in South Korea for decades.

In 1995, it merged with Lucky Chemical and LS Cable, and changed its name to Lucky-Goldstar – which was then shortened to LG.


Sony

Sony was originally founded as Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo, and was focused on producing and selling tape recorders and tape.

After returning to Japan from his first visit to the USA, founder Akio Morita decided he needed a name that was more recognisable outside of Japan.

TTK – a shortened version of the founding name – was unavailable as this was the Japanese national telephone company’s name.

Instead, he decided to name the company Sony based on two words – sonus – latin for sound – and the phrase “sonny boy”, which he believed represented the youthfulness and energy that he wanted the company to represent.

Sony logo


Microsoft

Microsoft founders Paul Allen and Bill Gates first jokingly considered names such as “Outcorporated Inc” and “Unlimited Ltd”.

The name “Allen and Gates” didn’t catch their fancy because companies like IBM and DEC weren’t named after their founders, and they believed that this increased the longevity of the brand.

They finally chose Microsoft – although it was originally styled “Micro-Soft.”

The company was developing “Microcomputer software” and Microsoft is a shortening of these two words.

Microsoft


Facebook

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg originally created Facemash, a digital platform where students would be shown two female students’ pictures side by side, and they chose who the more attractive one was.

The platform was soon shut down, and Zuckerberg was threatened with expulsion for creating the network.

He then noted that the face books – student directories featuring their basic information – at Harvard were only completed on paper or on private online systems.

He therefore decided to use his programming knowledge to create an online “face book” for Harvard students, and originally called it TheFaceBook.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Facebook logo blue


Amazon

Jeff Bezos originally named his company Cadabra – short for “abracadabra”.

However, after his lawyer misheard the name as “cadaver”, a word for a corpse, Bezos decided he needed a new name.

He chose Amazon after the famous river for two reasons.

The first was to imply a large size, while the second was because Amazon appears early in the alphabet.

Amazon


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How the world’s biggest tech companies got their names