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Technology Company Name Etymology & Acronyms

Often, we see a company name and wonder about its origin, especially if the name is some strange combination of letters and numbers that is not patently obvious - like 3M. 3M comes from "Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing."

The list below was primarily derived from listing on Wikipedia, but other sources were used as well. I have not substantiated all of the entries, so if know something to be incorrect, please let me know.

Word of the Day:   portmanteau
    \port-ˈman-(ˌ)tō\ , noun, a word or morpheme
    whose form and meaning are derived from a
    blending of two or more distinct forms (as smog
    from smoke and fog)

Many of these company names are portmanteaus.

Since the advent of the Internet, many company names are based on a phonetic variation of the original spelling in order to allow a unique domain name to be procured; e.g., 3Gmetalworx and Fotofab.

Aside: My first roommate in the barracks at Robins AFB, GA, hailed from Minnesota, and claimed that his father was the inventor of the reflective tape that 3M marketed. I did not doubt him, but wondered why someone from what must have been a well-to-do family would be dwelling among the enlisted ranks rather than having obtained a college degree and the privileged life of a commissioned officer.
  • 3M: Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing
  • 37signals: Web development company named after the 37 radio telescope signals identified by astronomer Paul Horowitz as potential messages from extraterrestrial intelligence.
  • Adobe: named after Adobe Creek that ran behind the house of co-founder John Warnock
  • Alcoa: Aluminum Company of America
  • AMKOR: AmericanKorea
  • Anatech: Analog Technology
  • Apple: the favorite fruit of co-founder Steve Jobs
  • ARP: maker of analog synthesizers in the 1970s, named after founder Alan Robert Pearlman
  • AT&T: American Telephone and Telegraph (sure, we all know this one)
  • Atari: named from the board game Go. "Atari" is a Japanese word to describe a position where an opponent's stones are in danger of being captured.
  • BASF: Badische Anilin und Soda Fabriken ("Badische Aniline and Soda Factories" in English)
  • BenQ: Bringing Enjoyment and Quality to life
  • Black & Decker: named after founders S. Duncan Black and Alonzo G. Decker
  • BMW: Bayerische Motoren Werke ("Bavarian Motor Factories" in English)
  • CAE: Canadian Aviation Electronics
  • Cisco: short for San Francisco
  • COMSAT: communications satellites (I worked there for a few years)
  • Corel: Cowpland Research Laboratory
  • Daewoo: means "Great House" or "Great Universe" in Korean
  • DEC: Digital Equipment Corporation
  • Digi-Key: from founder Dr. Ronald Stordahl's amateur radio telegraphic keyer, the "IC Keyer Kit"
  • DIT-MCO: Drive-In Theater Manufacturing Company, renamed  in 1951
  • eBay: Echo Bay Technology Group
  • Fiat: Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino ("Italian Automobile Factory of Turin" in English)
  • Garmin: named after founders Gary Burrell and Dr. Min Kao
  • Grundig: named after founder Max Grundig
  • HP: Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard (duh)
  • Hitachi: port city in Japan ("sunrise" in English)
  • Honeywell: from founder Mark Honeywell
  • Hotmail: mail formatted using HoTMailL
  • IBM: International Business Machines
  • Infineon: Infinity and Aeon
  • Intel: Integrated Electronics
  • IPP: Integrated Power Products
  • JFW Industries: founders Jim Leach, Fred Walker
  • JQL Electronics:
  • JVC: Japan Victor Company
  • JyeBao: from words meaning "quick" and "agile"
  • Kenwood: named after founder Kenneth Wood
  • Kyocera: Kyoto Ceramics
  • LG: from the combination of two Korean brands, Lucky and Goldstar
  • Lexmark: Lexington Marketing
  • M/A-COM: Microwave Associates Company
  • Mattel: from founders Harold "Matt" Matson and Elliot Handler
  • MCI: Microwave Communications, Incorporated
  • Microsoft: microcomputer software
  • MITEQ: Microwave Information Transmission Equipment
  • MITRE: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Research Establishment
  • Motorola: Motorcar Victrola (for car radio)
  • NEC: Nippon Electric Company
  • Nikon: Nippon Kogaku ("Japanese Optical" in English)
  • Nokia: for the Finnish city of Nokia
  • Nortel: Northern Telecom
  • Pennzoil: merger of South Penn Oil and Zapata Oil
  • Philco: Philadelphia Storage Battery Company
  • Pixar: from pixel and co-founder Alvy Ray Smith
  • Qantas: Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services
  • Qualcomm: Quality Communication
  • QVC: Quality, Value and Convenience
  • RAND: Research and Development
  • Raytheon: means "light of the gods"
  • RCA: Radio Corporation of America
  • RFHIC: Radio Frequency Hybrid Integrated Circuit
  • RFMD: Radio Frequency Micro Devices
  • RIM: Research In Motion
  • Samsung: Korean word meaning "three stars" in English
  • Sanyo: Japanese word meaning "three oceans" in English
  • Sega: Service Games
  • Siemens: named after Werner von Siemens
  • Sprint: from parent company Southern Pacific Railroad Internal Communications (I'm surprised, too)
  • Sun: Stanford University Network
  • TDK: Tokyo Denki Kagaku ("Tokyo Electronics and Chemicals" in English)
  • TRW: Thompson Ramo Wooldridge, officially shortened to TRW, in 1965 (thanks to Neil B.)
  • Unisys: United Information Systems
  • UUNET: UNIX-to-UNIX Network
  • Verizon: combo of veritas (Latin for truth) and horizon
  • Vodafone: Voice, Data, Telefone
  • Xerox: from the LAtin xeros (dry) and graphos (writing) + X
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