Name That Business


Fun tidbit of the day from GeekPress: Ever wonder where your favorite company's name comes from? Find out here. Some of my favorites:

Arby's—the enunciation of the acronym of it's signature food- roast beef, or RB, thus Arby's.

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. (If you click on Hotmail's 'mail' tab, you will still find "HoTMaiL" in the URL.)

Nintendo—Nintendo is composed of 3 Japanese Kanji characters, Nin-ten-do the first two of which can be translated to "Heaven blesses hard work"; do is a common ending for any store.

NEXT: Chicago Beach Boys

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  1. Although it isn’t a corporate name, the earlier reference to Nintendo put me in mind of “Pokemon.” This is a contraction/japanization of “pocket monster.”

    Teenage boys or girls think nothing of asking to play with each other’s “Pokemons.” They probably wouldn’t be so quick to use the full phrase in such requests. For some reason, I get a mental image of Steve Martin’s character from “The Jerk,” repelling passers-by as he says to one after another, “Hey, I’ll let ya play with my pocket monster if ya want. Hey, where ya goin’? Don’t ya wanna see my pocket monster…?”

  2. “it’s” is NOT possessive.

    Sometimes, little things matter.

  3. I don’t know the truth but I had heard that Apple was actually named for the poisoned apple that the pioneer computer theorist Alan Turing ate to commit suicide. And of course the Beatles had Apple Records going for a few years before Jobs & Co. set up shop, maybe there was some ‘unconscious’ borrowing going on there.

  4. Cool link. Thanks!

  5. “Firestone” is the USA marketing brand for Bridgestone, huh? Except for A) Bridgestone, who bought Firestone, is available under their own brand, and B) Harvey Firestone. Think maybe Bridgestone was chosen because of its resemblance to a certain US rubber manufacturer?

    I’d be a little grain-of-salty with this list.

    I knew one of the heiresses of the above US company, who was just as batty as THK.

  6. I believe Exxon’s old european corperate name of “ESSO” was constructed much the same way as Arby’s. “ESSO” = S.O., the initials for Standard Oil which was the parent of Exxon. (post breakup Exxon was orig. known as Standard Oil of New Jersey)

  7. Speaking on behalf of approximately 10% of H&R’s viewers: we don’t have “favorite companies.”

  8. Yeah, I’d definitely take the “Some origins are disputed” part of this entry. Even Wikipedia’s own entry on Arby’s corrects the list; Arby’s was actually named for its founder, the Raffel Brothers — which is incredibly disappointing because I like the enunciation thing better.

  9. Bridgestone makes sense even without Firestone; founder Soichiro Ishibashi’s last name means literally “stone bridge”.

  10. Actually, a better translation of “Nintendo” would be “Leave luck to Heaven.”

  11. “Some origins are disputed” and some are just make up entirely. File almost all of these stories under “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.”

  12. I had always hoped Cisco was named after one of my childhood heroes — the Cisco Kid.

  13. Coleco began as Connecticut Leather Company. 3M was Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing.

  14. I was amused to know how apple was named so. Steve jobs had worked the previous summer in an apple farm and was furious that they were not able to come up with a good name for their new startup. He declared that if they didn’t come up with a better name by the next afternoon, he wud name it apple. They didn’t. He did. Today, can u think of a cooler name than apple..?

    And how on earth did they come up with- Yet Another Hierarchially Officious Oracle- for YAHOO..?

  15. A lot of business names are created by advertising firms trying to deal with the technical issues of TM law.

  16. It’s so interesting how companies get their names. There are some very creative names. I had no idea about Arby’s, HoTMaiL, or Nintendo. I’m going to read through that whole list on Wikipedia.

  17. It’s so interesting how companies get their names. There are some very creative names. I had no idea about Arby’s, HoTMaiL, or Nintendo. I’m going to read through that whole list on Wikipedia.

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