Apple CEO Tim Cook Visits Alabama, Discusses MLK, Coding, and More in Student Symposium

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Apple CEO Tim Cook visited Alabama today to attend a banquet hosted by the Birmingham Metro Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), where he received the 2018 Human Rights Award for advocacy for equality and safety in the workplace. Cook is an Alabama native who grew up in Robertsdale and attended Auburn University.

The event was meant to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. King was the founding president of the SCLC in 1957.


Ahead of the banquet, Cook also spoke at a student symposium at the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham focusing on civil rights, education, and innovation, and details of what he had to say were shared by Alabama news site AL.com.


On the topic of Martin Luther King Jr., Cook said his teachings “are timeless.” “If you listen to him today, you feel like he is speaking about today,” said Cook. He went on to explain that it’s important to reflect on the work done by King, and the ways we can continue his legacy.


As for students who attended the symposium, Cook encouraged them to “change the status quo” with a quote from Dr. King: “It’s not the behavior and the actions of evil people that we remember at the end, but the silence of the good people.” Cook said that’s a quote that has always resonated with him.

“It is a special time in your life,” he said. “This is a period of time where you can change the status quo. Now is the time to do it. The world needs you more than ever to not be silent.”

After Dr. King, the conversation shifted to coding. As Cook has said multiple times, he believes coding is an “essential language.” Apple’s Swift coding curriculum is rolling out in community colleges in Alabama as of today, and Cook’s trip also involved a stop at the Lawson State Community College.


Cook told students at the symposium that everyone in school should have “multiple years” of coding before graduating because it’s important to “understand the possibility of software” even for those who don’t plan to pursue a computer science-related job.

He also said that with students in the U.S. being pushed into four-year colleges, vocational paths have dried up, leading to the need for a rebalancing. Not everyone needs to attend a four-year college, he reportedly said, and focusing so much on four-year colleges has left us without enough people with the skills to build things.

Cook’s final words were to encourage students to fight for change. Young people are “not stuck with old dogmas” and don’t accept “it’s never been done before” or “it can’t be done,” he said. “This is a great beauty of being young,” he told students.

All of Cook’s comments and additional details on the symposium can be found over at AL.com.

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In the late 1980s Jim Reekes began working as a sound designer for Apple, creating some of the Mac’s most iconic sounds like the “Sosumi” beep, startup chord, and camera/screenshot click. In a new interview with CNBC, Reekes discussed the origins behind each of these sound creations, and what he thinks about the current audio design of Apple devices. Reekes has touched upon these topics before, but they remain interesting for anyone who might not have heard about this part of Apple’s history.

Reekes explained that the reason for the name “Sosumi” began with a lawsuit from The Beatles’ record label, also named Apple. At the time, Steve Jobs promised that his company would stay focused on computers and not get involved with music, so that the two similarly named companies could coexist.


After Macs added support for audio recording and MIDI (a standard that connects musical instruments to computers), The Beatles sued and forced Reekes to rename any sound effect that had a “musical-sounding name.”

Reekes’ frustration with the lawsuit eventually led him to the name “Sosumi,” because it sounded like “so sue me.” Today, Sosumi is still available as an alert sound in the Mac System Preferences.

One of his beeps, originally called “Xylophone,” needed a new name. “I actually said I’m gonna call it ‘let it beep’ and of course you can’t do anything like that, but I thought yeah, ‘so sue me.’ And then I thought that’s actually the right name,” Reekes said. “I’ll just have to spell it funny, so I spelled it Sosumi.”

He told the lawyers it was a Japanese word that didn’t mean anything musical. “That’s how that Sosumi beep came around,” Reekes explained. “It was really me making fun of lawyers.”

Reekes also looked back on the Mac’s original startup tone, which annoyed him “immensely” because the Mac crashed so many times that it was easy to equate the tone with a frustrating situation. Although he didn’t have permission to change it, he recorded a new c-major chord in his living room and used The Beatles song “A Day in the Life” as inspiration.

Jim Reekes and the keyboard he used to record the original Mac startup sound via CNBC

Eventually, Reekes managed to sneak the sound into the original Macintosh Quadra computer.

Some engineers at Apple were not happy with the change. “Our excuse was it’s too risky to take it back out at this point because something could crash,” he said. “We just made up some bulls—.”

It stuck, and years later Apple even trademarked the start-up sound. It’s one of the few sounds that’s trademarked, along with the NBC chimes and the Intel signature sound. “Kind of silly right?” Reekes smirked. “I’m playing a c-major chord and it’s famous and it’s a copyright.”

On the topic of startup sounds, Reekes voiced his disappointment in the lack of any startup chimes on most Macs today, and gave his opinion on the company’s current overall sound design. “I haven’t really seen much interesting audio coming out of Apple for a while,” he said. Reekes left Apple in the late 1990s and is now a consultant and “out of the sound design business.”


There are plenty of other tidbits from Apple’s sound design history in the interview, including the origins of the camera click heard on Mac screenshots and in the iPhone’s camera app, taken from Reekes’ old 1970s Canon AE-1. To read more from the interview, visit CNBC‘s website.

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