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The Macintosh startup sequence behaviors include the startup chime, Happy Mac, Sad Mac, and Chimes of Death.
The Macintosh startup chime is the single note or chord (depending on model type) played when an Apple Macintosh computer is turned on. The sound indicates that diagnostic tests run immediately at startup have found no hardware or fundamental software problems.
Mark Lentczner created the code for the arpeggiated chord used on the Macintosh II. Variations of this sound were used until Jim Reekes created the startup chime used for the Quadra 700 through the Quadra 800. Reekes said, "The startup sound was done in my home studio on a Korg Wavestation. It's a C major chord, played with both hands stretched out as wide as possible (with 3rd at the top, if I recall)." He was also the creator of the iconic (or "earconic", as he calls it) "bong" startup chime used in most Macintoshes since the Quadra 840AV. A slightly lower-pitched version of this chime was used on all PCI-based Power Macs until the iMac G3. The Macintosh LC, LC II, and Macintosh Classic II do not use the Reekes chime, instead using an F major chord that just produces a "ding" sound. The first generation of Power Macintosh computers also do not use the Reekes chime, instead using a chord strummed on a Yamaha 12-string acoustic guitar by jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan. Further, the Power Macintosh 5200-6300 computers (excluding the 5400 and 5500, which still had the "bong" chime) used an exclusive chime not used on any other Macintosh model, and the 20th Anniversary Macintosh also used a special startup chime as well, exclusive to this particular Macintosh.
For models built prior to the introduction of the Power Macintosh in 1994, a Sad Mac icon and error code, accompanied by unusual startup tones, are displayed on failure of initial self-diagnostic tests; this is referred to as the "Chimes of Death", "Chords of Doom", or "Chimes of Doom". Chimes of death are error beeps played at a startup failure.
The chime for all Mac computers since 1999 is the same chime used first in the iMac G3. The chord is a F-sharp major chord, and was produced by pitch-shifting the 840AV's sound. The Mac startup chime is now a registered trademark in the United States, and is featured in the 2008 film WALL-E when the titular robot character is fully recharged by solar panels.
A Happy Mac is the normal bootup (startup) icon of an Apple Macintosh computer running older versions of the Mac OS operating system. It was designed by Susan Kare in November 1983, and resembles models of the Compact Macintosh series. The icon remained unchanged until the introduction of the PowerPC Macs, when it was updated to 8-bit color. Adoption of this new icon was not universal for all Macs, however, as some late PowerPC Macs still had black and white "Happy Mac". The Happy Mac indicates that booting has successfully begun, whereas a Sad Mac (along with the "Chimes of Death" melody or one or more beeps) indicates a hardware problem.
When a Macintosh boots into Mac OS 9 or lower, the system will play its startup chime, the screen will turn gray, and the Happy Mac icon will appear, followed by the Mac OS splash screen (or the small "Welcome to Macintosh" screen in System 7.5 and earlier), which underwent several stylistic changes. Mac OS versions after 8.6 also included the version number in this splash screen i.e. "Welcome to Mac OS 8.6".
On early Macs that had no internal hard drive, the computer would boot up to a point where it would need to load the operating system from a floppy disk. A standard installation of System 7 was too big for a floppy disk, so Macs that don't support hard disks can that only boot up to System 6.0.8. Until the user inserted the correct disk, the Mac would display a floppy icon with a blinking question mark. In later Macs, a folder icon with a question mark that repeatedly changes to the Finder icon is shown if a valid System Folder cannot be found.
With the introduction of Mac OS X, the blinking system folder icon was replaced with the prohibition icon, the bomb screen was replaced with a Kernel panic (which was originally colored white but was changed to black in version 10.3). With Mac OS X 10.1, Puma, a new Happy Mac was included. This is also the last version that had a Happy Mac logo; in version 10.2, the Happy Mac symbol was replaced with the Apple logo.
A Sad Mac is a symbol used by older-generation Apple Macintosh computers (hardware using the Old World ROM; in other words, Macintoshes without built in USB), starting with the original 128K Macintosh, to indicate a severe hardware or software problem that prevented startup from occurring successfully. The Sad Mac icon was displayed, along with a set of hexadecimal codes that indicated the type of problem at startup. Different codes were for different errors. This was used in place of the normal Happy Mac icon, which indicated that the startup-time hardware tests were successful. In 68k models made after the Macintosh II, a tune (Chimes of Death) was played.
Models prior to the Macintosh II crashed silently and displayed the Sad Mac, without playing any tone. PowerPC Macs played a sound effect of a car crash, and computers equipped with the PowerPC upgrade card used the three note brass fanfare death chime (A, E-natural, and E-flat) same as the Macintosh Performa 6200 and Macintosh Performa 6300.
A Sad Mac may be deliberately generated at startup by pressing the interrupt switch on Macintosh computers that had one installed, or by pressing Command and Power keys shortly after the startup chime. On some Macintoshes (e.g. PowerBook 540c) if the user presses the command and power keys before the boot screen displays, it will play the chimes of death; the chimes are a fraction of normal speed and there is no Sad Mac displayed.
On the iPod, if damage or an error occurs in the hardware or the firmware, for example, if its files are deleted, a Sad iPod appears. This is similar to the Sad Mac, but instead of a Macintosh, there is an iPod, and there are no chimes of death. The icon also lacks a nose, and the trail off is on the other side. It also doesn't show hexadecimal codes indicating what problem occurred in the iPod. This error screen might not show up when a problem occurs in the newer iPods today.
Chimes of Death
Different Macintosh series used different death chimes. The Macintosh II was the first to use the death chimes (an upward major arpeggio, with different chimes on many models). The Macintosh Quadra, Centris, Performa, LC and the Macintosh Classic played the upward major arpeggio, followed by three or four notes, with slight variation depending on the model of the Macintosh. The Macintosh Quadra AV660 and Centris AV660 used a sound of a single pass of Roland D-50's "Digital Native Dance" sample loop, while the Performa 6100 series used a car crash sound. The Power Macintosh and Performa 6200 and 6300 series, along with the Power Macintosh upgrade card, used a 3-note brass fanfare. The pre-G3 PCI Power Macs, the beige G3 Power Macs and the G3 All-In-One used a sound of a firecracker mixed with a metal pipe being struck, making it sound like something just exploded inside the machine when power was applied. Since the introduction of the iMac in 1998, the Chimes of Death are no longer used.
- Inside Macintosh: The Startup Process. Retrieved September 3, 2011
- Whitwell, Tom (26 May 2005) "Tiny Music Makers: Pt 4: The Mac Startup Sound", Music Thing
- Apple Sound Designer on Iconic Startup Sound. Obama Pacman. March 10, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- "Macintosh: "Sad Macintosh" Error Code Meaning". Apple. November 30, 2003. Archived from the original on June 17, 2009. Retrieved August 24, 2008.
- OS X: "Broken folder" icon, prohibitory sign, or kernel panic when computer starts. Apple.
- The Original Macintosh: Boot Beep – Folklore.org