Hadoop, MySQL, Harmony and countless others. You’ve heard of these things every day in the news, or perhaps in your daily work life, and yet, do you know the origin of the names? Some may seem simple, while others may seem confusing. But we’ve talked to their creators to get to the bottom of this surprisingly sentimental trend.

MySQL
The story of MySQL (now owned by Oracle) sparked this article. At Agile2011, we spoke with Patric Palm of Hansoft, a company that provides agile project-management tools, and he provided the origin of the name for this open-source database.

MySQL was cofounded by Michael Widenius, whose daughter’s name is My (pronounced “Mia”), according to Palm.

The dolphin is named “Sakila,” which was chosen from a list of suggestions by users in a “Name the Dolphin” contest. Ambrose Twebaze, an open-source software developer from Swaziland, submitted the winning name. According to MySQL, Ambrose said the feminine name Sakila has its roots in siSwati, the local language in Swaziland.

Hadoop
Seems everyone knows the story of the Hadoop elephant, which was named after a toy elephant owned by creator Doug Cutting’s son. This Apache project contains a distributed computing platform and an implementation of MapReduce.
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Harmony
This project wasn’t harmoniously named; actually, there was quite a bit of discussion about what to call the modular Java runtime with class libraries and associated tools project, according to the Apache Software Foundation.

The project was originally called Union, to imply parts coming together, but Davanum Srinivas, an Apache team member suggested that it be called Harmony instead. All in all, it ended on a high note: The project is much higher on the project list starting with an “H” than it would be if it started with a “U.”

Yay
The Apache Labs, according to Sally Khudairi, VP of marketing and publicity for Apache, is a way for developers to allow others to view an idea and determine if it is technically viable. Yay was accepted to the labs last week and was named by its creator, Tommaso Teofili.

“I was about to start a [research] project about AI and neural networks, so when I had to think about its name, it was about a month after my son was born; thus I decided to call it ‘Yay,’ since it was the first sound my son was able to produce. And, also, ‘yay’ is often used as an exclamation to express delight and joy,” he explained.

About Victoria Reitano