Story behind a name

By DAVID MOON, Moon Capital Management, LLC
September 2, 2012

As I read about the demolition of the Walter P. Taylor Homes development a couple of weeks ago, I began to wonder who was Walter P. Taylor? Was his family upset that his namesake apartment complex was being destroyed? Were they relieved? Or were they even aware?

No one at KCDC could tell me anything about Taylor. A cursory web search turned up a Second Lieutenant Walter P. Taylor who, in 1944, received the Presidential Distinguished Service Cross. There was also a Walter P. Taylor who was a biologist in Arizona who wrote a 1922 paper titled “The Life History of the Kangaroo Rat.” If you know if either of these are the correct Walter P., email me and let me know.

The stories of how things came to be named are often interesting. Our self-made, conservative little city was named after the first US Secretary of War, Henry Knox, in the hopes that he might favor our blossoming little burg with some federal money.

A googol is the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. It was jokingly representative of the amount of information this new search engine could search. A Google was born.

Samsonite is named for the biblical strongman, Samson.

Adobe is the name of the creek that runs behind the house of company co-founder John Warnock.

Cisco is simply a shortened version of the company’s home, San Francisco.

Intel is not short for intelligence. It is a shortened version of Integrated Electronics.

eBay founder Pierre Omidyar originally wanted to name the company Echobay, but was already registered to gold mining company Echo Bay Mines.

Steve Jobs once worked in an apple orchard and threatened to call his new company Apple Computer if his colleagues didn’t suggest a better name. Apparently they didn’t.

Pepsi is named after pepsin, an enzyme in the digestive tract. Yummy.

Shoe company Reebok is named after the African antelope, the rhebok. Its competitor adidas is named for founder Adolph Dassler. It is not an adolescent acronym about day-long R-rated dreams.

The Southern Pacific Railroad Internal Communications company eventually became Sprint. Railroad rights-of-way used to be the cheapest place to lay telephone lines.

Haagen-Dazs is not a European name. It was simply made up.

George Eastman named the camera Kodak because he liked the letter K.

Microsoft originally had a dash in the middle of its name. So did the News Sentinel.

The origin of the name of convenience store 7-Eleven is obviously a reference to the company’s business hours. I preferred the company’s original name, U-Tote’M.

Epson is a reversed contracted form of “son of electronic printer.”

Comcast is a combination of the first syllable of the word “communication” and the last syllable of the word “broadcast.” Xfinity is an ancient, 1st century Latin word meaning “being put on telephone hold for a really long time.”

Hotmail had nothing to do with trying to create a hot brand image. The “hot” prefix was an abbreviation for “html,” which is itself an abbreviation for “hypertext markup language.”

Skype is a shortened version of the phrase “sky peer-to-peer.”

Volkswagen translates as “people’s car” in German. Adolph Hitler named the company.

David Moon is president of Moon Capital Management, a Knoxville-based investment management firm. This article originally appeared in the News Sentinel (Knoxville, TN).

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