September 07, 2010, 12:40 PM — It's funny how fast a silly-sounding phrase can gain universal meaning.
Just think: Fifteen years ago, if I'd have told a friend I spent the day looking for names at Go Daddy, he would have assumed I'd gone off the deep end. If I mentioned that I also wasted some time Googling myself and Farking, he would have nodded politely and slowly backed away.
[ See also: Curious Histories of Generic Domain Names ]
Nowadays, of course, most people wouldn't bat an eye at those proclamations (nor would they think twice if I told them I tweeted from an iPad while on Wi-Fi -- and when you think about it, that's a seriously strange thing to say). We all accept these odd-sounding words as part of our collective vernacular, yet we never stop to think about where they actually originated.
Today, the mystery ends. We've tracked down the inside scoop on six of tech's most unforgettable names. Some of them have pretty surprising backstories -- like a well-known Web giant that was almost called "BackRub" -- while others, like our first entry, have almost no story at all.
1. Go Daddy
You have to wonder whether Go Daddy would have succeeded had the company kept its original name: Jomax Technologies.
[ See also: How 10 Famous Technology Products Got Their Names ]
Jomax, founded in 1997, was named after a road founder Bob Parsons passed on his way to work each day. It was simple, it was meaningful -- but it sure wasn't memorable.
Within a couple of years, Parsons and his team realized they needed a better moniker if they were ever to make it in the crowded online world. Days of brainstorming led nowhere, but then someone -- in what we can only assume was a joke -- suggested the name "Big Daddy."
Unfortunately (or fortunately, perhaps), BigDaddy.com was already taken. But GoDaddy.com, as luck would have it, was not.
"When we first bought the Go Daddy name, we thought it might be a bit too silly to use for our name," Parsons recalls. "We continued to look for a better name but found nothing."
Wacky as it may be, the staff quickly realized "Go Daddy" was impossible to forget. With no better options in sight, they decided to stick with it -- and thus, a new Daddy was born.
For a company that routinely touts its products as being magical, the origins of Apple's name are actually quite ordinary.
There are all sorts of stories out there about the meaning of Apple. Some say it was simply Steve Jobs' favorite fruit. Others insist it was a nod to Jobs' time working at an apple orchard (man, I bet that orchard had beautiful, wonderful, really revolutionary fruit). But they all offer relatively mundane explanations for the five-letter word that's come to represent a whole way of life.
According to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Jobs spouted out the name while the two were driving along Highway 85 outside of Palo Alto. Woz tells the tale in the 2004 book Apple Confidential 2.0:
Steve was still half-involved with a group of friends who ran the commune-type All-One Farm in Oregon. And he would go up and work there for a few months before returning to the Bay Area. He had just come back from one of his trips and we were driving along and he said, "I've got a great name: Apple Computer." Maybe he worked in apple trees. I didn't even ask. Maybe it had some other meaning to him. Maybe the idea just occurred based upon Apple Records. He had been a musical person, like many technical people are. It might have sounded good partly because of that connotation.
Here's what I really want to know: You think Steve wore jeans and a black turtleneck while working at the farm?