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April 7, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 4:02pm

Before they were famous – 10 of the best codenames for famous technology

From the bizarre to the obscure - how many of these famous codenames do you know?

By Vinod

Google’s Gmail service turned ten last week, marking a significant milestone for one of the world’s most popular mailing services. But would it have been so widely used if it had stuck to its codename – the decidingly less-sexy Caribou? Here are ten more of the most puzzling, intriguing and downright strange codenames or working titles given to some of the world’s most popular technology products…


Innsbruck – iOS 7

The most recent iteration of Apple’s mobile operating system marks the latest in a series of creative naming ideas by Cupertino. Named after the Austrian town famous for its wintersports, the codename for iOS 7 followed ‘Sundance’ for iOS 6 and ‘Telluride’ for iOS 5.0, as Apple gave its major software releases the names of popular skiing resorts.


Revolution – Nintendo Wii

Nintendo originally named its game-changing games console "Revolution". However, the name proved too long and hard to pronounce in Asian cultures, Nintendo changed it to the far easier to pronounce and much more distinctive "Wii." This wasn’t the first case of changing identity for the Big N either – the Wii’s predecessor, the GameCube, was originally codenamed ‘Project Dolphin’.

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Blackberry Curve 8300

‘Baby Bear’, ‘Mama Bear’, and ‘Papa Bear’ – BlackBerry Curve 8300

Back when BlackBerry ruled the market, it could afford to be quirky and not alienate too many customers. So in 2007, the company turned to fairy tales to codename three versions of its BlackBerry Curve 8300. Specifically, it looked to Goldilocks and the Three Bears – "Baby Bear" referred to the version with the most basic features, which was camera-only; "Mama Bear" referred to the 8320 model, which included a camera and Wi-Fi; and "Papa Bear" described the 83xx model which came equipped with the most features: camera, Wi-Fi and GPS.


Windows 95

‘Chicago’ – Windows 95

Like Apple’s iOS codenames, Microsoft has a habit of naming its Windows software after American cities. This really gained popularity with Windows 95, nicknamed ‘Chicago’, as this was the OS which revolutionised desktop computing. Later versions also followed suit, with Windows 95 OSR 2 codenamed ‘Detroit’, ‘Nashville’ for Explorer 4.0, ‘Memphis’ for Windows 98, and ‘Whistler’ for Windows XP. However, the next release was a bit more obscure…



‘Longhorn’ – Windows Vista

Microsoft’s next major attempt to revolutionise home computing, the much-maligned Windows Vista, moved away from placenames and was instead given the moniker of a breed of cattle. Acting as the building blocks for the new system, ‘Longhorn’ even gained a logo, leading several insiders to believe it would end up being the final name for the software. Given many customers’ response to Vista, maybe Longhorn should have been put out to pasture long before its replacement with Windows 7.


HTC First

Facebook ‘Buffy’ – HTC First

In its aim to dominate the social world, in Spring 2012 Facebook looked at developing its own mobile device. Manufactured by HTC, which was also riding high following its One S and One X smartphones, what would become the HTC First, a phone with Facebook’s services at its core, was released in April 2013 to lukewarm acclaim. Maybe it should have kept its vampire-slaying codename, which would have appealed to both fans of the original TV series with disposable income and younger Twilight-era consumers.


Adobe photoshop CS2

‘Space Monkey’ – Adobe Photoshop CS2

Adobe is another company which seems to pour extra creativity into the codenames of its new projects, with new versions of its Photoshop suite of software receiving a variety of film-related titles. The above is probably one of the most sensible, with other iterations being dubbed ‘Fast Eddy’ (Photoshop 2.0), Venus in Furs (Photoshop 6.0) and Big Electric Cat (Photoshop 4.0).


Xbox One

Durango – Xbox One

Yes – Microsoft again! The computing titan had a bit of a quandary when naming the next evolution of its Xbox console, following the Xbox 360. Some thought it would go with mathematical consistency, but our favourite codename was Durango – sounding a bit like a Midwest outlaw, this would have been a much more badass name for what ended up being the boringly-titled Xbox One.



‘Fiona – Amazon Kindle

Amazon’s Kindle is widely credited with kicking off the e-reader market, with the recent Kindle Fire HD device offering a real alternative to Apple’s iPad. The company is also creative when it comes to its product codenames, with the original Kindle nicknamed ‘Fiona’, after a character in Neal Stephenson’s ‘The Diamond Age’. Later Kindle devices have also gained good codenames, with recent hardware updates being called ‘Soho’, ‘Thor’ and ‘Apollo’.


android kitkat

‘Key Lime Pie’ – Android KitKat 4.4

Also known as the one that never was, ‘Key Lime Pie’ was far and away the industry’s expected choice of name as Google geared up to launch its latest version of Android in September 2013, in keeping with its sweet-themed previous releases (Jelly Bean, Ice Cream Sandwich and Honeycomb, to name a few). However the search giant had the last laugh, instead unveiling a branding partnership with Nestlé’s KitKat, fuelling suggestions that the company had sold out when it came to its usually excellent creativity.


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