Under The Microscope

Rogue Amoeba, Rogue Amoeba, Wherefore Art Thou, Rogue Amoeba?

In honor of Under The Microscope’s third birthday (actually, a day late)1, I thought I’d post something sort of fun. Today, we’re going to talk about the origin of our company’s name, as you might have guessed from the title of this post. When Juliet says “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?”, she’s not wondering where Romeo is, she’s lamenting his name. Specifically, the problem is that pesky Montague portion. We often lament our own name in similar fashion.

So, whence comes a name like Rogue Amoeba? The short answer is “Quentin”, with a bit of credit-guilt due to the whole team. The long answer is “weeks of arguing and a complete lack of consensus, coupled with a product (Audio Hijack ) that was ready to ship”. It took a fair amount of stupidity, but at least it was cheap2. It’s got its pros (It’s attention-grabbing, people don’t forget it, and it lends itself to a great logo), and plenty of cons (no one can spell it, legitimate alternate spellings exist, it’s pretty bizarre, and it’s not likely to survive if we ever transition into a larger software company).

Perhaps the biggest problem, however, is that people expect it to have a great story behind it, and it just doesn’t. I recently decided to change that, by making up stories behind the name. Now, the next time someone asks about the name’s origin, I’ll simply consult our ever-growing list of ideas, and use one of them. Have a look at a few:

A young relative of mine was killed by amoeba Balamuthia, a rare but deadly organism. The company is named in memorium.

Perhaps this one is a bit too dark, too morbid, especially since it’s not true. But it definitely fends off further questions.

The company is named as an homage to the Amoebas found in the hit Atari game Boulder Dash. These creatures grew in size and caused enemies to explode on contact.

The name is a tribute to the lead character in the hit Adolescents song “Amoeba”, who has “got a mind of it’s own”.

Tributes are always good, but it’s very difficult to find famous amoebas. These were the best we’ve found thus far.

In Brazil, amoeba is slang for a “slow, obtuse person”. We never considered ourselves terribly smart, but we are a bit rebellious. Thus, Rogue Amoeba.

If Conan O’Brian has taught us one thing, it’s that self-deprecation works. That, and gravity-defying hair.

Apple supposedly chose their name so as to appear before “Atari” in the phone book. We merely wanted to appear before Roxio.

Or Ronald Reagan. Or even Ronald McDonald Charity House. Any name that comes after Rogue and is sufficiently funny will do here.

So there it is – the not-at-all true stories behind the name Rogue Amoeba. Do you have your own funny idea for how we came up with the name? Submissions are always welcome!

1 Though our archives start in September of 2002, our first real post went up April 19th, 2003. We retroactively added old news to UTM, but the true start date was April of 2003. Back

2 See this fascinating article on just how costly naming can be. I read this about once a year, and it never fails to amaze me. Back

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