Back around the year 2000, Gunter Zeilinger wrote the popular JDicom utility suite using the commercial Java DICOM Toolkit (JDT). After this experience with the JDT, he decided that he should write his own DICOM toolkit. Thus was dcm4che (pronounced d-c-m-for-chay) born. Gunter, inspired by the revolutionary nature of open source, decided to name the toolkit after a famous revolutionary. It just so happened that the name worked out to sound something like d-c-m-for-jay, which is a pretty common way to name a project in the Java world (e.g. log4j).
The original version of the toolkit was designed with the intention of submitting it to Sun as a JSR (Java Specification Request) for a standard Java-based DICOM API. With that in mind, the toolkit was separated into an interface layer and an implementation layer. The JSR never happened, but the project started gaining in popularity among the Java DICOM development crowd. Shortly after, the dcm4jboss archive was born. This sub-project implemented the IHE Image Manager and Image Archive actors. dcm4jboss has evolved into a robust, stable platform for managing imaging studies and reports. It has participated (and succeeded) in the IHE Connectathon several times and is deployed in production at many sites. Recently, the archive was renamed to something a little more descriptive of its nature. It is now called dcm4chee (pronounced d-c-m-for-chee) - the extra "e" signifying its enterprise usage.
Around 2006 Gunter felt the need to re-architect the DICOM toolkit. Performance, memory usage, flexibility, and simplicity (removing the JSR-motivated interface layer) were all driving factors in this decision. This new version of the toolkit has been labeled dcm4che2.
Thanks for taking time to learn a bit about the project's history! Whether you use the toolkit or the archive application, we hope it meets your needs and encourage you to join the community!