Business names

The history of technology is a subject that fascinates me. Although individuals have long invented things, much technological advancement comes from corporations. As part of that interest, I keep a list of company names and their meanings. This topic came to mind earlier today when I wrote a short post about the death of Ken Olsen, the founder of Digital Equipment Corporation which then became DEC until it went to just plain Digital. Digital was taken over by Compaq which was then merged into HP (Hewlett-Packard). Here are some other company names and their stories:

ABN AMRO – A home mortgage lender and bank. In 1991, the Algemene Bank Nederland (ABN) merged with Amsterdamsche Bank and Rotterdamsche Bank (AMRO)

Arby’s – The roast beef sandwich place. The company was created by Raffel Brothers whose initials, RB, are pronounced Arby.

BMW – The car company. Bayerische Motoren Werken (i.e., Bavarian Motor Works).

Esso – The oil company that became Exxon. Originally Standard Oil whose initials, SO, are pronounced Esso.

Starbucks – The coffee franchise. Named after Starbuck, a character in “Moby Dick”

Any additions?

5 Responses to Business names

  1. kad barma says:

    Just some off the top of my head:

    IBM–International Business Machines, which was spun off from
    NCR–National Cash Register
    HP–Hewlett Packard (the founders names)
    RCA–Radio Corporation of America
    GEICO–Government Employees Insurance COmpany
    AT&T–American Telephone & Telegraph
    BT–British Telecom
    FIAT and ALFA are both acronyms, but I can never remember the Italian
    Volvo is Latin for “I roll”
    Amoco–AMerican Oil COmpany
    Alcoa–ALuminum COmpany of America
    3M–Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing
    A&M Records: named after Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss
    Adidas–adapted from founder Adi Dassler
    HSBC–Hong kong Shanghai Banking Corporation
    MBNA–Maryland Bank, NA (Not sure what the NA stands for)
    Kmart has something to do with Kresge’s…

  2. Marie says:

    CVS – Consumer Values Store – 1963: The first Consumer Value Store (CVS) opened in Lowell, Massachusetts, as a discount health and beauty aid store in which customers bag their own merchandise; founders are brothers Sid and Stanley Goldstein and Ralph Hoagland.

  3. DickH says:

    When I was younger, a friend whose father worked for a competing auto dealership said Ford stood for “found on road, dead”. The NA in MBNA stands for National Association which has something to do with a bank’s charter. Then we have the 3 “-BCs” – National, Central and American

  4. Paul@01852 says:

    It’s probably more than coincidental that “RB” is also a short-hand way to order a roast beef sandwich, Arby’s specialty.