King Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson

Harald Blåtand Gormsson, died c. 985/86) was a king of Denmark and Norway. He was my 29th great grandfather.

Yes, at least part of his name is familiar. Bluetooth is technology that allowed mobile phones to connect to computers. Back in the day the leader of mobile phone technology was Erikson of Sweden. The name Bluetooth is an Anglicised version of the Scandinavian Blåtand/Blåtann (Old Norse blátǫnn), the epithet of the tenth-century king Harald Bluetooth who united dissonant Danish tribes into a single kingdom. The implication is that Bluetooth unites communication protocols. The idea of this name was proposed in 1997 by Jim Kardach of Intel. At the time of this proposal he was reading Frans G. Bengtsson‘s historical novel The Long Ships about Vikings and King Harald Bluetooth. The Bluetooth logo is actually the blending of two Runic letters, H and B.

This technology was based upon work that was created during WWII. Hedy Lamar patented the basic techniques for a more secure communication system, so Bluetooth and WiFi owe a great deal to her work. Back to Harald…

He was the son of King Gorm the Old and of Thyra Dannebod. Harald ruled as king of Denmark from c. 958 – c. 986. Harald introduced Christianity to Denmark and consolidated his rule over most of Jutland and Zealand. Harald’s rule as king of Norway following the assassination of King Harald Greycloak of Norway and was more tenuous, most likely lasting for no more than a few years in the 970s. Some sources say his son Sweyn Forkbeard forcibly deposed him from his Danish throne before his death.

Why was he called “Bluetooth”? No one really knows. It is expected that at least one of his front teeth had died and was discolored. Another theory was that he was very fond of blueberries. His son was called Forkbeard, so we can guess nicknames were common.

I prefer to think how my 29th great grandfather was connected to modern technology, instead of bad dental practice.

Harald Bluetooth