Jim Reekes – The Guy That Created Apple’s Iconic Mac System Sounds

Jim Reekes on Bobby Owsinski's Production BlogIf you’re an audio pro there’s a good chance that you’re working on a Mac. If that’s the case, you’ve heard the startup sound countless times as well as the Sosumi and click sounds. Jim Reekes is the guy who designed these sounds and he has a great story about all of them.

The original Apple startup sound was a tritone that Reekes hated, so he built a big C chord based on the ending of The Beatles “Day In A Life” on his Korg synth. The Apple engineers hated it, but it got it into the boot ROM so late in the project that there was little time to change it. They also told everyone at Apple that changing it might cause the computer (the Apple Quadra, if you remember that far back) to crash so it stayed. It’s still in Apple desktop computers but has been drop from its laptops.

The Sosumi sound came at the expense of the Apple attorneys. When Steve and Woz started Apple they promised The Beatles Apple Records company that they’d never get into music. Of course that changed, so Apple Records sued Apple Computers. As a joke, Reekes came up with the sound and named wanted to name it “So Sue Me.” Since that wouldn’t fly with the attorneys, he changed the spelling to Sosumi and told them it was a Japanese word (not true) that wasn’t related to music (true).

The familiar Apple camera click sound that you hear every time you take a picture with your iPhone or a screen grab on your desktop or iPad was actually derived from Reekes old 1970s Canon AE-1 that he purchased in high school.

No, Jim Reekes doesn’t get any royalties (although the startup sound is copyrighted) and left the company in 1990 before Apple became the big player in tech that it is today, leaving lots of money on the table. So it goes in Silicon Valley.

Jim worked on more than just the system sounds at Apple, writing software at every level of the operating system. He was also a member of the Quicktime team, created the company’s innovative audio architecture, and earned two patents in the process that have been used in countless multimedia products since.

Check out Jim Reekes’ website for more stories and videos.

Meet the man who designed Apple’s most iconic sounds from CNBC.

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