Former Apple Employee Reveals How He Sneaked The Mac's Iconic Booting Up Sound Onto A Computer

Jim ReekesTwitter/reekesFormer Apple employee Jim Reekes.

Former Apple employee Jim Reekes, the man behind the Mac’s famous startup sound — the noise the computer makes as it’s booting up — has explained in a new interview how a group of company workers sneaked in the audio file without permission from their managers.

Reekes detailed to 99% Invisible how, back in 1991, he hated the Mac’s failed boot up noise:

“I just hated it. I just could not stand it, Reekes said.”Your Mac just crashed. Again. You’ve lost your work. Again. You’re waiting for this thing to boot up. Again. That’s the audience, just a bunch of pissed off frustrated people who are annoyed and you’re wasting their time.”

You can hear the original startup sound 10 seconds into this video:

Unhappy with the Mac’s existing startup sound, composer Reekes decided to come up with something better.

“I had to change everyone’s mood, so I was thinking a zen-like, meditative sound similar to a gong or chanting ‘om,'” he said. 

But when Reekes asked his managers at Apple whether he could introduce a new startup sound, they shut him down. “I was told I couldn’t do it. ‘We already have a sound, you’re not allowed to change it.’ It was just on and on and on.”

Undeterred, Reekes created a new, more relaxing sound, and persuaded his colleagues to sneak it into the new Mac computer with his managers’ permission.

“I played it for them and then they liked it and so when no-one was around, we put it into the build.”

Sure enough, Reekes’ startup noise stuck. Users preferred the more calming noise, and it’s been found in Mac computers ever since. 

In case you needed a reminder what the improved startup noise is, here’s a recording on YouTube:

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