Let it Beeb

3 stories about some of the iconic sounds that Apple has been using for years.

Today is the official (NL) release of the iPhone 12. This reminded me of 3 stories about some of the iconic sounds that Apple has been using for years.

The first story is about Canon. The second is about a sound we all miss. And the third starts with a lawsuit. 

  1. The iPhone Picture Sound
  2. The macbook Startup Chime
  3. The “Sosumi” Sound

The iPhone Picture Sound.  

Did you know that this is the sound of Canon AE-1? So anytime you take a photo on your iPhone, you actually hear the sound of a Canon AE-1. Ever since I know this I think about Canon every time I hear somebody taking a picture with an iPhone.  

The AE-1 was manufactured by Canon in Japan from April 1976 to 1984. It was the first in what became a complete overhaul of Canon’s line of SLRs.

The Mac Startup Chime

The sound was born because the original startup sound was too annoying. In the early days the Mac often crashed and needed to restart. As a user you would hear this sound too often and it would drive you crazy. 

So a more peaceful and zen sound was designed to indicate the startup of your computer. 

The chime was created on a Korg Wavestation EX. It’s a C major chord, played with both hands stretched out as wide as possible with 3rd at the top. 

The design initiative came from Apple sound designers and it was implemented in a smart, fast but also kind of sneaky way. 

Because there was no permission to change the sound. But it was done anyway. Very late in the product development process so that it didn’t go through too many review cycles. 

Many engineers objected to the implementation and maybe they were right. 

A couple of years ago Apple decided to remove the startup chime. So I believe that must have had a good reason to do that. 

At the moment you can still turn it back on if you want. Many people seem to actually miss the startup chime. And to be honest, I do too. 

Here’s a video on how to turn it back on: 

 

 The Sosumi Sound

This one starts with a lawsuit… Sound designer Jim Reekes, who worked for Apple in the ’80s was working on sounds for the Mac.  He did a couple of beep sounds that led to the “Sosumi” beep. 

Around that time Apple Records, the label founded by the Beatles, became very popular. 

Now of course Steve Jobs got the right to use the name Apple when he started the brand. But he promised never to get involved with music. 

But that wasn’t the case. The story goes that the Beatles lawyers started suing because of the sounds Apple was creating. The lawsuit forced Apple to rename a couple of sounds to eliminate all references to music. 

One of the beep sounds Jim created now needed a new name. He now wanted to call it “Let it Beep”, just for fun. 

But unfortunately, that wasn’t possible. He didn’t like that so he decided to call it “Sosumi”. He later explained that this basically means “So sue me”. He just spelled it different to make it a Japanese word meaning somehting like “Crude”.

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Did you know that this is the sound of Canon AE-1? So anytime you take a photo on your iPhone, you actually hear the sound of a Canon AE-1. Ever since I know this I think about Canon every time I hear somebody taking a picture with an iPhone. The AE-1 was manufactured by Canon in Japan from April 1976 to 1984. It was the first in what became a complete overhaul of Canon’s line of SLRs.

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