How Apple’s Legal Battle With The Beatles Lead To The Mac’s Sosumi Sound

How Apple’s Legal Battle With The Beatles Lead To The Mac’s Sosumi Sound

The Sosumi sound continues to be a part of the Mac OS today.

If you’ve spent any amount of time with a Mac in the last 15 years or so, you may have noticed the Sosumi sound, one of several system alert sound options. Even though you most likely just passed it over without a thought, there’s a huge backstory behind the formation of that sound, one that starts with the Beatles, surprisingly enough.

The story starts with Jim Reekes, a former Apple employee who was an engineer on the Apple Sound manager is System 7. You may not know of him, but he’s the man responsible for the famous Mac startup chime as well.

While Jim was an employee at Apple, the Beatles (Apple Corps) had sued Apple. Due to this, Jim had to change the names of some of the system sounds he was working on, to make them sound less musical. As the story goes, one of the sounds in question was called “Chime.” Joking around, Jim said he would change the name of the sound to “Let It Beep.”

Not everyone caught the humor, and some told him he could never get away with it. Sarcastically, Jim replied with “so sue me”, which is when he realized what he would do. By changing the spelling to s-o-s-u-m-i, he was able to slip the change into the operating system, saying that Sosumi was actually a Japanese word and had no musical meaning.

It’s quite a fascinating story, and if you’d like to hear it in Jim’s own words, there’s a deleted scene video below from the movie Welcome To Macintosh that goes into more detail.

It’s always fun to hear an inside story about some of the inner workings of Apple, and this is no exception.

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  • seancca

    I watched that documentary and he was hilarious anytime they had him on camera.

About the author

Michael SteeberMichael Steeber is a student who is obsessed with everything Apple. He enjoys making videos and runs the MSComputerVideos YouTube channel in his free time. You can follow him on Twitter as well.

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