Here is the true story about the Sosumi beep, Mac startup sound, and other sounds I created at Apple. So many myths and urban legends about these sounds. I kept my secret about Sosumi for a decade after leaving Apple. I feared if the truth were known it would be removed. I’m happier than anyone could imagine these sounds I created are still around.
Listen to the Sosumi beep
I was interviewed for a documentary about the history of the Macintosh in San Francisco. They gave me free beer too!
Sadly, my favorite scene was deleted in the final edit of the movie. Fortunately, I found this clip on the cutting room floor. Here I am, telling the real story behind the urban legend of the infamous Sosumi beep sound on the Macintosh.
This clip is from the movie: Welcome to Macintosh. In the next video below I tell a more complete version of the story.
Here’s a rare clip (sorry about the low audio quality, not my fault but I could fix it). This was taken from the premier of the Welcome to Macintosh movie. I was on a Q&A panel with Steve Wozniak, Andrew Hertzfeld, and Guy Kawasaki. I set the mark in this clip to feature me and the Sosumi story 🙂
Mac Startup Sound
Listen to the Mac startup sound
The final chord of the Beatles “A Day In The Life” is an amazing moment, and was a key (pun intended) inspiration for my Mac startup sound.
In an interesting twist of irony (and I do love irony) the Sosumi sound came about due to a trademark dispute. My most famous sound is now officially an Apple trademark (what took them so long?). A sound trademark is rare. Some of the few examples are the 20th Century Fox orchestral fanfare, the NBC chimes (which also happens to be based on a C-Major chord), or the THX “deep note.”
But by far my favorite interview took place at a coffee shop near my home. If you jump to the 13:15 mark, I tell the story of how I created the Mac startup sound. At 24:35 I tell the more complete story about the Sosumi beep, and the context of the new sounds I added to Mac System 7.
Sadly the original has vanished from YouTube. I love those guys at One More Thing. What happened to them? Here’s a copy I found.
Mac and iPhone Camera Sound
Listen to the camera sound
One of the other sounds I created for the Mac is the one you hear when you take a screenshot (press Cmd-Shift-3). This is also more well-known as the sound you hear when taking a photo on the iPhone and iPad.
It is a recording of my trusty old Canon AE-1 from the late ’70s.
The Designer of Apple’s Most Iconic Sounds
This last video has become a favorite. CNBC contacted me asking if they could come to my house and ask some questions about what I had done while at Apple. I got to show off my music room filled with vinyl records, a didgeridoo, and reveal the instrument I used to create the Mac startup sound.
Articles About The Apple Sounds From Jim Reekes
I’ve been collecting many articles about my work over the years. I’m always surprised by how much this list continues to grow, and how interesting people are in hearing these stories.
- Hear the Evolution of Apple’s Iconic Startup Sound for the Mac
- How one Apple engineer fixed the Mac’s awful startup sound for good
- Early Apple sound designer Jim Reekes corrects Sosumi myth
- Let It Beep—the Secret Story of “Sosumi”
- The Story Behind the OS X Chime / Startup Sound
- A Brief History of Mac System Sounds – Eep!
- Review: Welcome to Macintosh, the documentary for the rest of us
- Mac OS X Easter Egg – Sosumi
- Urban Dictionary: Sosumi
- Wikipedia: Sosumi
- Wikipedia: Mac Startup Sound
- Apple’s Classic Mac Startup Chime is now a Registered Trademark
- Audio Branding: Apple Finally Trademarks Startup Chime
- Apple wins U.S. trademark for Mac boot chime
- 99 Percent Invisible – Episode 148: The Sizzle
- Former Apple Employee Reveals How He Sneaked The Mac’s Iconic Booting Up Sound Onto A Computer
- The Creator of the Apple Start-up Chime Isn’t Surprised It’s Going Away
- The Art Behind the World’s 27 Most Recognizable Sounds
- Let It Beep
- The Wrong Sound Could Summon the Devil
- Meet the man who created Apple’s most iconic sounds — Sosumi, the camera click and the start-up chord
- Creator of Mac startup & iPhone camera sounds talks Apple sound history
- Original creator of the Mac startup chime talks its demise & more in new interview
- The Mac startup chime is making a return in macOS Big Sur
- Sound of Design + Design of Sound« w/ Jim Reekes
- How Apple’s Most Iconic Sounds Came Out of the Beatles Lawsuit
- The real reason that familiar Apple Mac chime is off key
Mac Startup Sound Remixed into a Song
Look what they’ve done to my song, ma.