Mac users are familiar with the machine’s iconic Zen-like startup sound. However, did you know the man behind the sound – former Apple employee Jim Reeks – had to sneak it onto the machine?
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.”
The original startup sound plays approximately 10 seconds into this video:
Reekes, who disliked the Mac’s existing startup sound, decided to come up with a better one. “I had to change everyone’s mood, so I was thinking a zen-like, meditative sound similar to a gong or chanting ‘om,'” said Reekes.
However, when Reekes ran the idea past his managers at Apple, he was told no. “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.”
Reekes decided to go for it anyway, creating a new, more relaxing sound. Reekes played it for his co-workers, and when no one was paying attention, they snuck it into the build.
Users appreciated the more calming, “Zen” sound of the Reekes’ startup chime, and the sound has been present in Mac computers ever since. (We dare you to think of anything else but “Ommmm…” when you hear it.)