Its creator Kasper Skårhøj remembers it happening something like this…
Back in the late 1990s, while still working on the initial version, he was looking for a name for the new software. At the time, the name “freestyle” appealed to him, but it posed some problems through its over-association with certain activities, products and trademarks. So the issue of naming stayed on the back burner for want of a better idea.
Then, one Friday evening while he was alone in the building after hours entering code, a lapse of concentration resulted in Kasper inadvertently typing an error into the command line of his Linux server and accidentally deleting a whole week’s worth of programming. He recalls that feeling you get of a cold rush through your entire body, when you realize something dreadful has happened. Slowly he got up, walked to the other end of the room and sat down in the couch looking back across the office at the laptop perched innocently on his desk.
He stayed like this for a while, just staring emptily out into the room. Then, after the initial shock had subsided he walked back, sat down and began to recreate the lost code. This went surprisingly quickly; as such things do when you have them fully worked out in your head. And it was during this new rush of adrenaline and the satisfaction that all was not actually lost that he began to put the incident into a better perspective. The recreated programming was going smoothly and cleanly, which made him wonder how ironic it would be if a typo ended up actually improving the product! It was this thought that first brought up the expression “typo” as a possible name. It seemed to fit especially well because a) “typo”, as in typography, had something to do with layout and content and b) “typo”, as in spelling mistake, now had a quirky share in the product’s history. The newborn child now had a name.
Originally there were Typo versions 1, 2 and 2.5. But with the enduring success of version 3, which had branded itself more or less by default, a “3” was eventually appended to the product title. Since the launch of “TYPO3 version 4”, it has been finally settled that TYPO3 will remain as the product name for the version 4 and the version 5 issue and all future versions. So, TYPO3 it is … and TYPO3 it stays.