Answer: Brian Eno
The letter and distinctive Windows 95 start up / shut down sound has a backstory much longer than its soothing short play time. 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 startup sequence to help him break through. In a 1
The idea came up at the time when I was completely exhausted of ideas. I've been working on my own music for a while and quite a lot, actually. And I just heard 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 of it said" and it must be 3 1/4 seconds long. "
I thought this What a funny 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, it really broke a logjam in my own work.
Years after he's made the melody, he's admitted in a 2009 interview that he composed the iconic Windows tune on a Mac since he was not terribly fond of Windows PCs and had never used one.
Image courtesy of the Long Now Foundation.