Booms, Boings and Wisecracks

Whimsical sound effects are the newest and noisiest way to personalize a personal computer

IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE BEEP -- simple, utilitarian and sufficient to alert a computer user that his machine had been turned on or that a floppy disk had failed. Then came the Macintosh, with its built-in sound chips and an onscreen control panel that enabled Mac enthusiasts to replace the beep with a boing, a clink-clank or a monkey's chirp. Finally, last spring Microsoft put sound- control software in the latest version of its Windows program, extending the power to customize a computer's noises to the 90 million owners of IBM PCs and compatible machines.

Suddenly, computers that had whirred...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!