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HISTORY

Denmark’s Queen to publish history of the nation

Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II has written a history of Denmark from prehistoric times to the present day, bring her own personal voice to her country’s national story together with behind-the-scenes details from her own life and reign.

Denmark's Queen to publish history of the nation
Queen Margrethe II inspects some artefacts in the Danish Royal storeroom. Photo: Danish Royal Court
The book, 'De Dybeste Rødder' or 'The Deepest Roots', marks yet another venture for the multi-talented monarch, who is an accomplished artist, translator, illustrator and costume designer.  
 
It is also an appropriate one for the present scion of the world's oldest surviving monarchy, founded by the Viking kings Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth, back in the 10th century. 
 
“It has been a privilege to be able to write this book,” the Danish journalist Thomas Larsen, who worked with her on the book, said in a press release. “She puts colour and personality to the story.” 
 
In the book the Queen describes how Denmark has changed during her reign, moving from poverty to riches, rural to urban, at the same time as women have become equal. 
 
She also argues that Denmark has “…gone from friendly curiosity to skepticism about immigration”. 
 
Margrethe began her public art work as early as the 1970s when she illustrated the Danish edition of Lord of the Rings, under the pseudonym Ingahild Grathmer. 
 
She designed the costumes for a production of the Danish ballet A Folk Tale by the Royal Danish Ballet, and she has also illustrated Cantabile, a book of poetry by her French husband Prince Henrik of Denmark. 
 
The book will be published in Denmark on October 27. 
 

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VIKING

How a Viking king inspired one of our best-known modern technologies

A Swede and American tell the story of how they hatched the idea for the moniker 'Bluetooth' over beers.

A Danish 16th-century paining of Viking king Harald Bluetooth
A Danish 16th-century paining of Viking king Harald Bluetooth. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

At the end of the 1990s, Sven Mattisson, a Swedish engineer working at telecom group Ericsson, and Jim Kardach, an American employed by Intel, were among those developing the revolutionary technology.

In 1998, at the dawn of the “wireless” era, the two men were part of an international consortium that created a universal standard for the technology first developed by Ericsson in 1994.

But prior to that, they had struggled to pitch their wireless products. Intel had its Biz-RF wireless programme, Ericsson had MC-Link, while Nokia had its Low Power RF. Kardach, Mattisson and others presented their ideas at a seminar in Toronto in late 1997.

“Jim and I said that people did not appreciate what we presented,” Mattisson, now 65 and winding down his career at Ericsson, recalled in a recent interview with AFP.

The engineer, who had travelled all the way to Canada from Sweden for the one-hour pitch, decided to hang out with Kardach for the evening before flying home.

“We received a lukewarm reception of our confusing proposal, and it was at this time I realised we needed a codename for the project which everyone could use,” Kardach explained in a long account on his webpage.

‘Chauvinistic story’

To drown their sorrows, the two men headed for a local Toronto bar and ended up talking about history, one of Kardach’s passions. “We had some beers… and Jim is interested in history so he asked me about Vikings, so we talked at length about that,” said Mattisson, admitting that his recollection of that historic night is now somewhat foggy.

Kardach said all he knew about Vikings was that they ran “around with horned helmets raiding and looting places, and that they were crazy chiefs.”

Mattisson recommended Kardach read a well-known Swedish historical novel about the Vikings, entitled “The Long Ships”.

Set in the 10th century – “a chauvinistic story” about a boy taken hostage by Vikings, says Mattisson – one name in the book caught Kardach’s attention: that of the king of Denmark, Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson.

A Bluetooth adapter from 2004. Photo: Stefan Gustavsson/SvD/TT

Unification

An important historic figure in Scandinavia in the 10th century, the king of Denmark’s nickname is said to refer to a dead tooth, or, as other tales have it, to his liking for blueberries or even a simple translation error.

During his reign, Denmark turned its back on its pagan beliefs and Norse gods, gradually converting to Christianity.

But he is best known for having united Norway and Denmark in a union that lasted until 1814.

A king who unified Scandinavian rivals – the parallel delighted those seeking to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link.

And the reference to the king goes beyond the name: the Bluetooth logo, which at first glance resembles a geometric squiggle, is in fact a superimposition of the runes for the letters “H” and “B”, the king’s initials.

Low-cost and with low power consumption, Bluetooth was finally launched in May 1998, using technology allowing computer devices to communicate with each other in short range without fixed cables.

The first consumer device equipped with the technology hit the market in 1999, and its name, which was initially meant to be temporary until something better was devised, became permanent.

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