Sosumi is an alert sound introduced in Apple Inc.'s Macintosh System 7 operating system in 1991, created by Jim Reekes. The name is derived from "so sue me" due to a long running court battle with Apple Corp, the similarly named music company, over the use of music in Apple Inc.'s computer products.
Sosumi is a short sample of a xylophone, which gained notoriety in computer folklore as a cheeky response to a long-running Apple Corps v. Apple Computer trademark conflict. The sound has been included in all subsequent versions of Mac OS, including Mac OS X.
During the development of System 7, the two Apples concluded a settlement agreement from an earlier dispute when Apple added a sound synthesis chip to its IIgs machine. As a result, Apple Computer was prohibited from using their trademark on "creative works whose principal content is music".
When new sounds for System 7 were created, the sounds were reviewed by Apple's legal department who objected that the new sound alert "chime" had a name that was "too musical," under the recent settlement. The creator of the new sound alerts for System 7, Jim Reekes, had grown frustrated with the legal scrutiny and first quipped it should be named "Let It Beep," a pun on The Beatles' "Let It Be". When someone remarked that that would not pass legal's approval, he remarked, "so sue me." After a brief reflection, he resubmitted the sound's name as sosumi (a homophone of "so sue me"), telling the legal department that the name was Japanese and had nothing to do with music.
- Apple Corps v. Apple Computer
- Apple libel dispute with Carl Sagan for a similar revenge-by-pun anecdote
- Jennifer Lee (August 19, 1999). "The Sound and the Fury: Beating Back the Beep". New York Times. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
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- S. Derrickson Moore (April 2, 2006), "Sometimes all those bells and whistles just give us a headache", Las Cruces Sun-News (NM),
Sosumi" is such a strange word that I Googled it, searching for a definition, and got all sorts of references to lawsuits and defense attorneys. Really. I would have probed further but I don't like the sound anyway. So sue me.
- Owen W. Linzmayer (2004). Apple Confidential 2.0. No Starch Press. p. 283. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
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- Jim Reekes describing the origins of the sosumi name (Vimeo)
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