MsGeek.Org v2.0

The ongoing saga of a woman in the process of reinvention.
Visit me at my new blog, MsGeek.Org v3.0

Heard the Word of Blog?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Oh hell, why not blog this too...I think this is a first for me. Three entries in a very short period of time. I can't sleep until Richie gets home anyway.

I have always loved that magisterial "BWAAAH!" you hear when a Mac starts up. It makes that feeble feep a PC makes when it starts up sound...well, feeble. Most of my Macs have had that as a chime. I don't have any that have the Stanley Jordan harmonic...those were the first (Nubus) PowerPC Macs. I have a few that make the classic Mac chime. But the symphonic chord, that tells me, "Welcome home, sweetie, take off your shoes and get comfy."

My first Mac, a PowerBook 145, had that sound. My latest Mac, my Aunt Karen's iBook (which got to South Carolina safely, thankyouverymuch...) also makes that sound. My G3 Blue and White makes that sound. I love it. One of the first things that Steve Jobs laid down as law at Apple on returning was that every Mac from here on out would make that sound.

But who came up with that sound? What synth produced it?

Finally we have an answer. The linked article has every damn thing you ever wanted to know about the Mac Startup Sound, first heard in 1991, and created by Apple engineer Jim Reekes. The article has an MP3 of The Sound linked to it (I've got to convert it to a .WAV so I can use it as a KDE startup sound*) and also an MP3 of a great little technopop song, "Stranger In Moscow" by German (selbstverstandlich!) band Transformer di Roboter. The song uses the Mac Startup Sound as a keyboard bassline and a whole bunch of identifiable vintage video game and vintage computer sounds as part of the instrumentation. Gotta love it.

The same site also has the history of The THX 'Deep Note' sound on another page. Another fascinating little story. Too bad Lucasfilm is so paranoid about people sampling "Deep Note" because I bet that those guys from Transformer di Roboter could do something fun with that too. It's too long for a startup sound, though. I did have a .WAV of it and actually tried using it as a startup sound in Windows. The file size was too big and I wasn't patient enough for it to finish playing before trying to do something. It got shoved aside quickly. Too bad, it showed off the speakers that are now on my "ghetto home theatre" and were on that machine before then quite nicely.

* Note at 3:42PM: KDE will accept MP3 sounds as system sounds. It also accepts Ogg Vorbis. The former makes sense because MP3s are the "Lingua Franca" of sound files, and the latter makes sense because it's a Free/Open Source format. So every time KDE starts up now, I hear that lovely Mac Sound. All hail Cupertino! With Darwin and Great Justice for all! :-)