Android name tag.
Joe Fedewa / How-To Geek

Since its debut in 2008, Google’s Android operating system has become a household name. The name “Android” has a fun, techy vibe that perfectly matches the nature of an open-source OS. Where did that name come from?

A Brief History of Android

T-Mobile G1
T-Mobile G1 Mr.Mikla/

Nowadays, it’s relatively common knowledge that Google owns the Android operating system. However, Google didn’t create it.

Android Inc. was founded in California back in 2003, five years before the first Android smartphone would launch. It was founded by Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, Nick Sears, and Chris White. Originally, Android was intended to be an OS for digital cameras.

That idea didn’t last long, though. Eventually, they realized there was much more potential for Android to rival Windows Mobile and Symbian, the leading mobile operating systems of the time. In 2005, Andy Rubin tried to make deals with Samsung and HTC to no avail.

In July of 2005, Google acquired Android Inc. for $50 million. Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, Nick Sears, and Chris White all went to Google as well, with Rubin leading the team. Google began marketing the OS to phone makers and carriers. The big selling point was the open and flexible nature that we still know today.

The Apple iPhone was launched in 2007 and drastically changed the mobile phone landscape. Google launched the first Android device—the T-Mobile G1—in 2008. Android devices have continued to be released at a remarkable pace ever since.

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Where Did the Name “Android” Come From?

Android statue.
Sundry Photography/

The word “Android” long predates the Android operating system. Before, the term “Android” was pretty much only used to describe human-looking robots. The first use has been traced back to 1700s to describe mechanical devices that resembled humans.

However, none of that has anything to do with where the Android operating system got its name—not directly, at least.

Before founding Android Inc. and joining Google, Andy Rubin worked at Apple from 1989 to 1992. At Apple, he was given the nickname “Android” for his love of robots. In fact, was Rubin’s own personal website until 2008.

It’s funny how things work out sometimes. “Android” is a very fitting name for an operating system that prides itself on personalization, but the name wasn’t specifically created for the OS. It all goes back to a nickname given to a guy named Andy. Rubin is no longer at Google, but his name lives on.

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Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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