Geek Trivia

Which Musician Revitalized His Career By Composing the Windows 95 Start Up Sound?

John Digweed
Brian Eno
Paul Oakenfold
The Division Symbol Is Formally Known As The?

The brief and distinctive Windows 95 start up/shut down sound has a back story significantly longer than its soothing six second playtime. In 1994, Microsoft approached renowned Ambient music composer Brian Eno to help compose music for Windows 95. Eno was in a creative funk and attributes his work on the simple start up sequence to helping him break through. In a 1996 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle he explained:

The idea came up at the time when I was completely bereft of ideas. I’d been working on my own music for a while and was quite lost, actually. And I really appreciated someone coming along and saying, “Here’s a specific problem — solve it.”

The thing from the agency said, “We want a piece of music that is inspiring, universal, blah-blah, da-da-da, optimistic, futuristic, sentimental, emotional,” this whole list of adjectives, and then at the bottom it said “and it must be 31/4 seconds long.”

I thought this was so funny and an amazing thought to actually try to make a little piece of music. It’s like making a tiny little jewel.

In fact, I made 84 pieces. I got completely into this world of tiny, tiny little pieces of music. I was so sensitive to microseconds at the end of this that it really broke a logjam in my own work. Then when I’d finished that and I went back to working with pieces that were like three minutes long, it seemed like oceans of time.

Years after he created the melody he admitted he composed the iconic Windows tune on a Mac as he wasn’t terrible fond of PCs.