Where did the research project RedShark get its name?

Raymond Chen

Project code names are not arrived at by teams of focus groups who carefully parse out every semantic and etymological nuance of the name they choose. (Though if you read the technology press, you’d believe otherwise, because it turns out that taking a code name apart syllable-by-syllable searching for meaning is a great way to fill column-inches.) Usually, they are just spontaneous decisions, inspired by whatever random thoughts jump to mind.

Many years ago, there was an internal user interface research project code named RedShark. Not Red Shark but RedShark, accent on the Red. Where did this strange name come from?

From a red shark, of course.

When the project started up, the people in charge were sitting around and realized they needed to give the project a name. It so happened that the office they were sitting in belonged to a team member who collected a lot of strange toys. One of those toys was an small inflatable red shark.

Somebody looked around the room and spotted the red shark. “Let’s call it RedShark.” Nobody else had a better idea, so the name passed by default.

That small inflatable red shark became their mascot and hung from the ceiling in the hallway.

No deep, hidden meaning. Just a $3 cheap plastic toy that happened to be in the right place at the right time.