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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 Corps, 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.[1][2][3][4][5] 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.[6] 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.[7][8][9]

Cultural influences[edit]

The term was used in the poem "A Short Address to the Academy of Silence" by Jay Parini.[10]

Jon Lech Johansen's blog "So Sue Me" is believed to be pun reference to the Apple sound.[8]

Apple used the CSS class name "sosumi" for formatting legal fine print on Apple product web pages.[11][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jennifer Lee (August 19, 1999). "The Sound and the Fury: Beating Back the Beep". New York Times. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  2. ^ Greg Mancina (May 14, 2001), "Ding, dong, now I've got your attention", Saginaw News, MI
  3. ^ Amy-Mae Elliott (October 18, 2010). "8 Classic Tech Sounds that Defined Our Digital World". Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Owen W. Linzmayer (2004). Apple Confidential 2.0. No Starch Press. p. 283. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  6. ^ Royal Courts of Justice (2004). "Judgment in Apple Corps Limited vs Apple Computer, Inc. - EWHC 768 (Ch) in Case No: HC-2003-C02428". Archived from the original on 2005-03-15. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  7. ^ Jim Reekes describing the origins of the sosumi name (Vimeo)
  8. ^ a b Xeni Jardin (24 March 2005). "Early Apple sound designer Jim Reekes corrects Sosumi myth". Boing Boing. Archived from the original on 2005-06-01. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  9. ^ Luke Dormehl (2012). The Apple Revolution. Random House. pp. 297–298. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  10. ^ "A Short Address to the Academy of Silence" Jay Parini, The Sewanee Review, Vol. 112, No. 3 (Summer, 2004), pp. 344-345
  11. ^ "The story behind "Sosumi" the Mac's startup sound". November 11, 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-11-25. Retrieved October 21, 2016.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  12. ^ "apple_legal_text_css.png". Retrieved February 27, 2014.