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11 Famous Companies That Originally Had Very Different Names

Sometimes it takes a few tries to get the right name.

Mountain View, Ca/USA December 29, 2016: Googleplex - Google Headquarters with biked on foregroundUladzik Kryhin/Shutterstock

BackRub

Believe it or not, Google was originally given the name BackRub. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the creators of Google, came up with the name in 1996 before the search engine even existed. After a year, they weren’t completely satisfied with the name and changed it to Google in 1997. Google comes from the mathematical term “googol,” which represents the digit 1 followed by 100 zeroes. That large number is meant to reflect their hope to have a search engine with practically infinite information. Good thing they changed it because hearing someone say, “I don’t know, let me BackRub that,” would be pretty strange. Check out what these company logos looked like when they were young.

TAYLOR, MI-OCTOBER, 2015: Customers leaving a Best Buy store in this Detroit suburb. Note the glass roof which allows natural light into the store.James R. Martin/Shutterstock

Sound of Music

Not to be confused with the Julie Andrews movie, the electronics store Best Buy was originally called Sound of Music. Richard M. Schulze established the original store in 1966 in St. Paul, Minnesota. At the time, they just sold home and car stereos. Then in 1981, a tornado tore through their most profitable store causing them to have a “Tornado Sale” where they sold damaged goods for discounted prices. In order to get people to come to the sale, the company advertised it by promising “best buys” on all the products. They made more money at the sale than they did in an average month so the company was renamed Best Buy.

AOL IN LONDONMIMI MOLLICA/Shutterstock

Quantum Computer Services                   

In 1983, Steve Case created Quantum Computer Services. “His idea was to create an online bulletin board for owners of Commodore 64 computers. It wasn’t a sexy niche, but he thought it might have potential,” reported TIME. “From 1985 onward, Case nurtured Quantum from a few thousand members to more than 100,000.” In 1991 the company was renamed America Online, better known as AOL. You’ve probably been mispronouncing these company names all along.

New York City - January 2, 2016: PepsiCola sign and Queensboro Bridge at night as seen from Gantry Plaza, Long Island.Felix Lipov/Shutterstock

Brad’s Drink

Pharmacist Caleb Bradham was experimenting with ingredients in 1893 when he created what is now known as Pepsi. The overnight hit was originally known as “Brad’s Drink” after his last name. In 1898, he renamed the drink Pepsi-Cola. Then in 1902, the Pepsi-Cola Company was started due to the high demand for the drink.

San Jose, California, USA - April 26, 2018: Exterior view of Paypal 's headquarters in Silicon Valley. PayPal Holdings, Inc. is an American company operating a worldwide online payments system.michelmond/Shutterstock

Confinity

PayPal was originally called Confinity. Their original name was meant to be a merge of the words confidence and infinity, but the company was renamed PayPal in June of 2001 when the main focus became making payments through email. See if you can spot the hidden messages in these company logos.

HANOVER, GERMANY, 20 March 2015 - Logo of BlackBerry displayed during CeBit, the largest IT trade show in the world.Pieter Beens/Shutterstock

Research in Motion

The once-popular cell phone company Blackberry was originally called Research in Motion. The company changed their name in 2013 to Blackberry after their best selling product since that’s how most people referred to it.

Sunnyvale, California, USA - March 29, 2018: Yahoo sign at Yahoo 's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. Yahoo! is a web services provider that is wholly owned by Verizon Communications through OathNicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web

This very long company name was eventually changed to Yahoo! The founders of the site, Jerry Yang and David Filo, originally named the search engine after themselves. However, as the site grew in popularity, the founders decided to change it. Yahoo! is an acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.” Also, see if you can guess these famous acronyms.

Ballerup, Denmark - September 10, 2017: Sony office building. Sony is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation that is headquartered in Konan, JapanNicole Fornabaio/rd.com

Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo

Sony was originally named Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo. The two founders, Ibuka Masaru and Morita Akio, became successful in repairing radios and other electronic devices. They started to make a name for their company when they invented Japan’s first transistor radio in 1955. In 1958, the company was renamed Sony after the Latin word for sound, “sonus.”

Oswestry, Shropshire, UK, 7 July 2017. Subway fast food shop.Wozzie/Shutterstock

Pete’s Super Submarines             

Fred DeLuca opened up the sandwich shop Pete’s Super Submarines, now know as Subway, in order to pay his tuition to medical school. DeLuca and his family friend, Peter Buck, opened their first shop in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1965. The business struggled and they renamed the store Subway. Within their first year under the new name, they made $7,000 in profit.

Shanghai.China-ARP. 26.2016;Nike LOGO in shanghai.nike is the first brand in China.August_0802/Shutterstock

Blue Ribbon Sports

The company Nike was originally founded as Blue Ribbon Sports. Founded in 1964, it first served as a U.S. distributor of running shoes made by Onitsuka Tiger, a Japanese company now known as Asics. In 1971, the company decided that it wanted to distribute its own shoes under their own brand and needed a new name. They eventually decided on Nike after the Greek goddess of victory.

Shoppers walk under the logo of Nintendo and Super Mario characters at an electronics store in Tokyo . Nintendo Co. sank to a loss for the fiscal year ended March as sales of its Wii U game machine continued to lag, but the Japanese manufacturer of Pokemon and Super Mario games promised Wednesday to return to profit this yearShizuo Kambayashi/Shutterstock

Marufuku Company    

In 1889, Fusajiro Yamauchi began manufacturing Japanese playing cards. The cards started to become popular around the world so Yamauchi founded Marufuku Co. Ltd. In 1951, the company name was changed to Nintendo Playing Card Co. Ltd. It was changed again in 1963 to Nintendo when the company started selling games in addition to playing cards. Next, read up on these other fascinating origins of company names.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Assistant Digital Managing Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. When she’s not writing for rd.com or keeping the 650+ pieces of content our team produces every month organized, she likes watching HGTV, going on Target runs, and searching through Instagram to find new corgi accounts to follow.