The Washington Post ran a story Wednesday by Paul Farhi titled, “How Do You Tell a Web Name From a Typo,” in which Tucows is mentioned amongst some other Internet companies with odd names. Certainly the Tucows name is unique, but it’s more than just a misspelling (Joost), or an English word with select vowels stripped out (Flickr), or a non-english word that translates into what the company is all about (Mahalo).
The Tucows name can be traced back all the way to the early days of the commercial Internet. Back in 1993, Scott Swedorski started Tucows in Flint, Michigan, as a website where users could download Windows 3.1 software that allowed the operating system to access the Internet. Tucows was an acronym for The Ultimate Collection Of Winsock Software – T.U.C.O.W.S. It seemed only natural to incorporate cows into the logo back then and we continue that tradition to this day.
Over the 14 years since Tucows was founded, the business has expanded to provide service providers (like ISPs and hosting companies)¬† everything from wholesale Internet services like domain names and hosted email, to SSL digital certificates and a software billing solution for ISP’s and Hosting companies called Platypus (a unique name in itself). The Tucows download site lives on to this day providing a place where Internet users can find and download the latest and greatest in freeware and shareware software.
In his article, Farhi calls out Yahoo! and Google (among others) as separate from the goofy name trend:
“Google and Yahoo are creative names — short (hence, easy to type into a browser), quirky and suggestive. Google: something very large, almost infinite, like a googolplex. Yahoo: a simple person, or an expression of joy. Ditto the sounds of Facebook and YouTube, which conjure something personal without getting silly about it.”
I’d like to suggest that with an Internet heritage that is even richer than those two companies (Yahoo! wasn’t founded until 1994, Google came much later in 1998), that Tucows should be regarded as a trend setter. And to suggest that the Tucows name is nothing more than a silly play on words diminishes that rich heritage that can be traced back to the very beginnings of the World Wide Web as we’ve come to know and enjoy it.
So to Paul Farhi, thanks again for the mention and we’d be more than happy to send you a couple of Tucows squishycows. Drop us a line on the blog, or via email (jkoole at tucows.com).