History of the Hobo

History of the Hobo

What really is a Hobo?  Where did the name originate?  Why is HoBo Industries telling this story?  All great questions!  Let’s dig in a little .  

According to Wikipedia, a hobo is a migrant worker in the United States.  Hobos, tramps, and bums are generally regarded as related, but distinct: a hobo travels and is willing to work; a tramp travels, but avoids work if possible; a bum neither travels nor works.  Interestingly, the National Security Agency weighs in (I know, right?!) and offers guesses as to how the naming came about.  In short, they believe the term originated from pleasantries called out, such as “hello boy” or “ho boy” that eventually shortened to “hobo”.  

Throughout human history, wanderers have always existed. The term “hobo” became common only after the broad adoption of railroads, a means of free travel for those who – often out of financial limitations – hop aboard train cars stealthily, sometimes in violation of the law. With the end of the American Civil War in the 1860s, many discharged veterans returning home began hopping freight trains, and the regularity of their appearance in history increased.  

They still exist today!  The Smithsonian writes a great article about “The Last of the Great American Hobos”.  They call out that “Every hobo has a moniker, a nickname grounded in habit or origin or appearance, like Redbird or Frisco Jack or Bookworm.”.  They are full of character for sure – there is even a National Hobo Convention, and has been every year since 1900.

Why is this at all relevant to us?  Just because our name coincidentally aligned with the term?  Pretty much.  When Jim Holmes ideated the name, it was true serendipity!  Our product facilitates traveling presenters get their message out wherever they stop, much like a hobo could hop off the train and be ready to go right away. Now you know!

~ HoBo.