Audio Branding: Apple Finally Trademarks Startup Chime


The sound of an Apple Macintosh computer starting up — a resounding digital chime, familiar to viewers of WALL-E — can strike a person with dread or joy, depending on what he or she is opening the computer for. Whatever the sound makes a consumer feel, it is now Apple’s sound and Apple’s alone.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved the company’s trademark application this week and so Apple’s trademarked sound joins the ranks of Harley-Davidson’s engine, NBC’s chimes, the 20th Century Fox fanfare, and the first bar of “O Canada,” the Canadian national anthem.[more]

Intel and Microsoft both have trademarked their sounds in the past, but this appears to be the first time Apple is trademarking a sound. The startup sound hasn’t changed since its last iteration in 1997, apparently because Steve Jobs was so enamored of it. The audio mark was created about 20 years ago by programmer Jim Reekes, as CNET reports, to “indicate that diagnostic tests running immediately at startup have found no hardware or fundamental software problems,” according to

If you want to try and make that sound (just for fun, not to make money from), the patent application has it that the chime is “a sound mark consisting of a slightly flat (by approximately 30 cents) G flat/F sharp major chord,” reports. Or you can listen to Reekes expound on the roots of Apple’s sound here.


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