11 True Stories Behind Tech's Top Names

Stories behind Twitter, Android, Mashable and more revealed.

ByABC News
September 10, 2010, 1:59 PM

Sept. 11, 2010— -- Contrary to popular belief, Pete Cashmore doesn't have an obsessive love for potatoes. Rather he dubbed his blog "Mashable" because the original site covered tech "mashups" — web projects created by combining two services, like Flickr and Google Maps.

Other companies have different strategies for naming or branding themselves or their products. And in the tech world, most of these reasons aren't apparent. Sure, everyone knows by this point that Google comes from a specific large number called a "googol" and that Microsoft combines "microcomputer" and "software." But what the heck is a Twitter?

We reached out to tech companies asking them to explain their names. What we got were 11 interesting stories that will satisfy your curiosity.

1. Twitter

The name Twitter was picked out of a hat. A small group of employees from Odeo, the San Francisco podcasting startup where Twitter initially began, had a brainstorming session. They were trying to come up with names that fit with the theme of a mobile phone buzzing in your pocket with an update.

After narrowing down the options (which included Jitter and Twitter), they wrote them down, put them in a hat, and let fate decide. Fate decided on Twitter (because clearly asking someone if they saw your latest 'jeep' is just weird).

2. Android

Apparently Andy Rubin, the co-founder and former CEO of Android, really, really likes robots. "You have to be a little bit careful when you're around Andy and his robots," says Nick Sears, the other Android co-founder, in this YouTube video. "I've seen his dog attack his robots."

3. Foursquare

Dodgeball, Dennis Crowley's first attempt at social networking for mobile phones was acquired by Google in 2005. When Google killed the project, Crowley founded an improved location-based social game he named Foursquare.

Does Dennis Crowley have some sort of unresolved childhood issues relating to playground games?

As it turns out, no he doesn't. "Dennis chose to name both companies after playground games because they were both designed to be fun and playful," said Foursquare's PR manager in an e-mail. Apparently Foursquare was actually always Crowley's first choice, but the domain name wasn't available when he founded Dodgeball.