Special Report

World Wide Mesh (and 49 Other Famous Things that Almost Had Other Names)

Source: Scott Barbour / Getty Images

16. Google
> Almost named: BackRub
> Category: Company

Today’s ubiquitous search engine Google that has become one of the most valuable brands in the world was originally called BackRub — a reference to an algorithm — when the company was created in 1996. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin renamed the company Google in 1998, based on a play on the world “googol,” a math term for the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

17. Sherlock Holmes
> Almost named: Sherrinford
> Category: Character name

Literature’s most famous detective, renowned also in film and television, might have been called something other than Sherlock Holmes. Apparently, author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle left written notes suggesting he had considered the name Sherrinford for the sleuth.

Source: Tom Pennington / Getty Images

18. Dallas Cowboys
> Almost named: Rangers, Steers
> Category: Sports

“America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys, has become famous because of its on-field success as well as brilliance at marketing the franchise. The name Cowboys, however, wasn’t the first choice. After Dallas was awarded an NFL franchise in 1960, the team was known as the Rangers. But the team’s executives were concerned about being confused with a Dallas minor league baseball team by the same name. They changed the name to Steers, but the team’s general manager Tex Schramm objected to that name because “you don’t want your whole football team being castrated.” The owners selected Cowboys, and the rest is NFL history.

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

19. Alien
> Almost named: Memory, Star Beast
> Category: Movie

The original script for “Alien” by screenwriter Dan O’Bannon was titled “Memory.” Then it became “Star Beast” before the final title of “Alien.” The movie would take its place among the most horrifying films of all time and would spawn seven sequels. The Alien franchise has grossed more than $1 billion when adjusted for inflation.

Source: Paul dexxus / Wikimedia Commons

20. The Hawaiian Islands
> Almost named: Sandwich Islands
> Category: Location

The Hawaiian Islands were originally called the “Sandwich Islands.” Famed British explorer James Cook named the islands after the Earl of Sandwich, when Cook landed there in 1778. The islands began to become known as Hawaii from the native language around 1840.