Before there was Thunderbolt there was FireWire, the high-speed alternative to onboard USB on Macs. Over at Ars Technica, Richard C. Moss tells the tale of its rise and fall.
My favorite bit, though, is about why Sony (which deserves the credit for popularizing the standard, before Apple jumped on board) refused to name it FireWire and called it “i.LINK” instead:
“The official reason was that the Japanese are afraid of fire,” Teener said. “They’ve had lots of flames, lots of burned down houses.”
That seemed too lame. One day he took some friends at Sony out after work to get drunk and learn the real reason, which turned out to be rooted in the value of the name…. “They compared FireWire to Sony and it was, ‘Oh, yeah, FireWire is cool!’ Sony: boring.”
What killed FireWire? Moss suggests that it was Steve Jobs agreeing to increase the licensing fee for FireWire, driving Intel away from putting it on chipsets and into the arms of USB 2.0. The rest is history—and so is FireWire.