It’s a little-known fact that part of Wikipedia’s name comes from a bus in Hawaii. In 1995, six years before the famous online encyclopedia launched, a computer programmer named Ward Cunningham was at Honolulu International Airport on his first visit to the islands. He was in the middle of developing a new kind of website to help software designers collaborate, one that users themselves could rapidly edit from a web browser. It was a striking innovation at the time. But what to call it?
“I wanted an unusual word to name for what was an unusual technology,” Cunningham told a curious lexicographer in 2003. “I learned the word wiki … when I was directed to the airport shuttle, called the Wiki Wiki Bus.”