Meet the man behind some of Apple's most famous sounds

Cnbc Make It Jim Reekes
Cnbc Make It Jim Reekes (Image credit: CNBC Make It)

What you need to know

  • CNBC Make It recently highlighted Jim Reekes, a former sound designer from Apple.
  • Reekes talks about creating the macOS startup and iPhone camera sound.

You've probably never heard of the name Jim Reekes, but you have definitely heard some of the sounds he has designed over this career.

In a video recently posted to YouTube, CNBC Make It caught up with Reekes and talked about some of the famous sounds the designer created for the Mac and iPhone.

When Apple was sued by the Beatles' lawyers after getting into the music business with iTunes (something Apple promised never to do), the company had to rename a bunch of sounds in the Mac to avoid further suits. Reekes talks about how one sound, called Sosumi, was created due to a lawsuit.

"I actually said i'm going to call it let it beep. Of course, you can't do anything like that, but i thought yeah it was "So Sue Me." And then i thought, that's actually the right name. I'll just have to spell it funny, so i spelt it s-o-s-u-m-i and then i said it's a japanese word. It doesn't mean anything musical. And that's how that sosumi beat came around. It was really me making fun of lawyers."

Reekes also designed the now-famous Mac startup sound. The designer admits that he actually snuck the sound into a late version of a release so that no one would have time to take it back out.

"The truth was the computer crashed a lot and every time you would hear that sound it was pretty much because you were just rebooting after a crash and i was trying to think 'so how can i give them some kind of zen pallet cleanser to help make them forget that they just lost a bunch of work.' They thought you couldn't change the sound but i happen to know the people that own the roms. I built the sound and i gave it to them and i said put this in there and I did it really late in the project so that it wouldn't go through many review cycles and I snuck it in late and that's how it got there."

Reekes also designed the sound of the iPhone camera - that obvious "click" you get when you take a photo.

"When you do a screenshot it plays my camera. It was my canon ae1 that i had since i was in high school and then now it's been moved over and it's on the iPhone. So anytime you take a photo it's my camera, which also kind of freaks me out because even to this day when i hear people take photos with their iPhone, I look to see like who stole my camera."

While the macOS startup sound was absent for a few years, it made a triumphant return with macOS Big Sur last fall.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.