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Beeping Computers

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"By pressing down a special key, it plays a little melody."
Kraftwerk, "Pocket Calculator", Computer World

Computers in movies and television have a knack for making a lot of unnecessary or uncommon noises. It seems as if producers think audiences won't believe a computer is doing anything unless it's making beeps and boops during the process. Extra points are awarded when the incessant beeping is accompanied by a text box with flashing letters or border. If a character zooms closer in a picture or a digital map, expect to hear accompanying beeps or whirls. This trope is most common in techno-thrillers, sci-fi or action plots. As this phenomenon is very common in older works, where the computers in question are often extremely outdated, there is generally a large overlap with Zeerust and Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future, although it is still far from being a Discredited Trope as of now.

In Real Life, results vary. Computers run quietly by default, with the most noise originating from motors such as the ones that control the machine's disk drives, or the ones powering its cooling fans. Those who spend significant amounts of time using their computers for work or play are often able to develop enough Machine Empathy for their machine to judge things like whether the processor is being overworked, or whether a program is frozen or just reading from the harddrive, simply by the pitch of the fan noise, the hums and squeaks of the harddrive motor, subtle static chirps audible through headphones, and the vibrations of the case.

Beyond that, any other noise is produced by playing an audio sample through the computer's sound system, something known as auditory feedback: A beep to inform you that yes, the computer registered that you pressed a button. However, the meaning of it varies; a user can usually configure whether or not their computer should play a sound in response to specific events, ranging from mouse clicks and dropdown menus to application errors to friends logging in and out of IM. The only time you'll hear a computer's hardware beep these days is if something goes wrong on boot, like a RAM error; the different frequencies and arrangements of tones tell you what's wrong, if you're familiar with them. The BIOS may sound beeps on startup if a memory, cache or processor error is happening.

A relative of the Extreme Graphical Representation and Viewer-Friendly Interface. Compare Pac Man Fever, which applies to video games instead of computers.


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  • Magical Pokaan: Aiko, the android character, emits realistic computer sounds, such as the noise of a hard disk spinning up and seeking when she wakes up or is deep in thought. In one episode her malfunctioning speech circuits make her voice skip and stutter in exactly the same manner audio playback can stutter on a malfunctioning or underpowered computer.

    Film — Animation 
  • Big Hero 6: The holoscreen in Hiro's garage produces sounds when interacted with.
  • At the end of the Runaway Train action sequence in Incredibles 2, the brainwashed train conductor's monitor makes beeping sounds as the Screenslaver's message for Elastigirl appears.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The main character in The Saint (1997) breaks into the leading actress' apartment and begins downloading information from her personal computer. The computer not only flips through the electronic notes on the desktop as they are siphoned onto the hero's external hard drive, but also scrolls down through the bottom of one of the pages, highlights a quote and beeps.
  • In Jurassic Park (1993), after the protagonists basically reboot the entire park to get the power back up, the computers come on with a "System Ready" prompt and a blinking cursor. A blinking cursor that also beeps. This would get really annoying on a real computer. However, this was the only point where such a contrivance was used in the back-end systems, and was conceivably put in as a "The multi-billion-dollar theme park is ready to go, please get off your butt and get started" reminder for easily distracted computer operators. Or put in by Nedry in one of his less destructive Jerkass moments.
  • There is a scene in Spider-Man where the school children are leaving the lab and the camera pans to a computer screen that shows a new species of spider has been created, accompanied with a lot of flashing and beeping.
  • Casino Royale (2006) is replete with computers that beep, click, and chirp as the characters go about saving and destroying the world. In one instance, James Bond is looking at a map on a computer, and every time he zooms in, the computer beeps then chirps.
  • Airplane II: The Sequel clearly fits this trope as on Moonbase Alpha Beta the commander almost goes insane because of the incessant "flashing and beeping" of the computers.
  • Blade Runner: Due to an interesting combination of zeerust and a Used Future aesthetic, the instrument Deckard uses to analyse the photographs he found makes an alarming cacophony of both electronic beeps and physical clicks and whirs, suggesting it's both computerized and mechanical.
  • Most all computer consoles, terminals and mainframes on Nostromo in Alien make an array of beeping, whirring and other less identifiable noises, including sounding something akin to a dot matrix printer.
  • Parodied in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life with a very expensive piece of medical equipment that goes PING for no obviously apparent reason other than that hospitals need machines that go PING. It's wheeled in to impress a visiting manager.
  • In one scene in Drumline, the conductor uses a printer to print sheet music for the band. The printer is an inkjet. It makes the distinctive noise of a dot matrix printer.
  • The Nail Gun Massacre has a computer that literally beeps with every keystroke.
  • In the first TRON movie, the computer Kevin Flynn used to hack into ENCOM was particularly noisy - it beeped each time he pressed a key, or when the cursor blinked. The workstations in ENCOM beeped for each row of text displayed from any system generated messages, and made a long buzz when the "End of Line" text was shown at the end of the whole message.
  • When Lisbeth in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) uses her computer for hacking purposes, it makes an uncharacteristic beep every time she makes a keystroke. One would think that keyboard noises should be sufficient.
  • The computers in V for Vendetta do this, despite obviously being regular Apple computers.
  • The ship's computer in Dark Star makes beeping sounds when displaying information on the screen.
  • Parodied in Spaceballs: the technician notices that the radar is not working because he's lost the beeps, the sweeps, and the creeps; and he demonstrates these noises.

  • Isaac Asimov's
    • "The Last Question": (Subverted Trope) When Multivac is seen at the start of the story, it is softly clicking (and some lights were flashing) because it was sorting routine data. When Adell and Lupov asked it the titular question, "The slow flashing of lights ceased, the distant sounds of clicking relays ended." Later iterations of Multivac are so complex they don't make any noise except for speaking naturally with the human users.
    • "Point of View": Roger hears Multivac "chuckling and whirring all about" when he visits. We know that Multivac is working because of all the noise.
  • In Discworld:
    • One of the many strange peripherals on Hex is a device whose sole apparent purpose is to go "parp" every fourteen minutes.
    • The imps in the Dis-organizers say "Bingely-bingely beep!", which is apparently meant to be the sound a pager makes when it's notifying you of something.
  • Every time anybody uses a computer in Ghost Whisperer it makes a sound effect after the user does anything.
  • Lampshaded in the second Artemis Fowl book. When Foaly needs to use Artemis's laptop without anyone noticing, the first thing he does is mute the volume, noting that the Mud People would insist on making their computers beep at the most inconvenient times.
  • In Iron Fist, a datapad makes a sound when it's finished uploading its program into a Super Star Destroyer's computer. This attracts a little attention, but Shalla is able to bully the stormtroopers into thinking the sound came from outside of the bridge - she's there as part of The Infiltration.
  • The abominably user-friendly computers of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy are designed by expert teams of social psychologists and sales executives to provide the most fulfilling possible computer-use experience to you, the customer, whether you like it or not. Beep beep beep.
  • Dave Barry in Cyberspace jokes about loud whirring and grinding noises during the installation of software being produced by the computer's "Whirring Grinding Unit, or WGU."
  • Room: Jack and Ma receive some warning that Old Nick is about to enter, from the beep-beep of the keypad to open the door.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blake's 7: Zen makes a variety of humming noises and the occasional "plonk"; Orac makes a particularly irritating set of high-pitched beeps against a background of warbling whining noises.
  • In the short-lived comedy Come Back Mrs. Noah, any futuristic device of the year 2050 will require excessive button-pushing with appropriate sound effects, followed by inappropriate sound effects like farting noises when the device activates (and inevitably malfunctions).
  • Daredevil (2015): When Ben Urich watches Wilson Fisk's press conference and realizes that his editorial will be moot, he deletes the file with a definitive bleeping sound.
  • In The Crystal Maze, lots of the devices in the Futuristic Zone beep. There is a code entered on a beeping keypad to open each door, although this seems to serve no purpose; a "bomb defusing" game has a background beeping, which becomes more urgent and high-pitched as the time runs out, and Richard O'Brien also runs a beeping radiation detector over a contestant who has been dealing with nuclear waste.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Time Crash": The TARDIS beeps when Ten flips the monitor around to show Five the exact size of the hole in the time-space continuum that would happen if they don't separate their TARDISes.
    • Ten is having a picnic with Elizabeth I when his handheld device starts making loud whirring and chirping noises. When asked incredulously what it was, the Doctor's first answer was "It's a device that goes 'ding!'".
    • "The Bells of St John": Alexei's computer starts sounding an alarm when a brain upload has halted, and makes a whistling noise when the progress bar starts reversing. That's not discounting the actual beeps and boops it makes when he and the Doctor have a hacker duel.
  • The original Knight Rider has KITT emiting a characteristic sound whenever it lights its frontal scanner and enters "Surveillance Mode". The sound was so associated with KITT that the 2008 series carried the same sound effect (the front scanner light effect was completely different, though).
  • LazyTown: In "Defeeted", the Feet Crazer Maker 6000 is nearly always beeping.
  • NCIS:
    • An egregious example occurs in an episode featuring the Real Life freeware space simulator Celestia. The actual program has no sound effects at all.
    • In another episode McGee tells Tony shutting down a mainframe isn't a video game, cut to a a helpful countdown to the time remaining, announcements of the firewalls he has breached, and the solution is Gibbs shooting the computer to prevent it from sending its kill command (except the only thing he shot was the monitor).
  • NUMB3RS: Every scroll and click makes some sort of noise.
  • The Outer Limits (1963): Justified Trope since the series was made during The '60s, when computers blooped and bleeped in real life.
  • Out of this World (1962): "Little Lost Robot": The gallery, from where the characters conduct the experiment, has tape reels, buttons and levers, as well as whirring and flashing lights, which shows how complicated the machinery is in Hyperbase 7.
  • Probe's "Untouched by Human Hands": Serendip uses robots for mundane tasks, and they respond to voice commands with beeps.
  • Ziggy, Al's computer from Quantum Leap, has its own set of beeps, boops, and squeals, the latter of which usually indicates an error to be fixed via use of Percussive Maintenance.
  • Smallville: In an episode, Chloe highlighted a section of a picture on a computer. The computer, on its own, then highlighted a portion of that section and beeped.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: Computers in the original series beeped because it was a futuristic interpretation of the rather noisy computers of The '60s (which really did have blinking lights too).
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: The LCARS interface chirps, beeps or bleeps every time it shows a new word, plots a planet in a star chart or changes a value in a number-filled spreadsheet. There is actually a point to this: Giving feedback to the user, since an absence of mechanical keys means you cannot "feel" anymore whether you actually pressed something.
  • Wonder Woman (1975): IRAC and Rover were regularly shown with whirring tape machines and beeping superfluous sounds.

  • The merengue song "El Baile del Beeper" by Oro Solido revolves around this trope.
  • Kraftwerk's "Pocket Calculator" from Computer World is an ode to the days when calculators used to make little beeping sounds when you pressed the keys.
    "By pressing down a special key / it plays a little melody."
  • Throbbing Gristle's "IBM" uses the sound of a computer cassette loading, along with other electronic bleeps. In a similar manner, some beeping sound effects to represent a computer are used in Aaron Carter's "My Internet Girl".

  • It's easy to find on Internet or in compilations of SFX Stock Sound Effects for computers, that sound as if they were either mechanical devices or something far different to any Real Life one.

    Video Games 
  • A lot of video games still have a "beeping" sound when somebody speaks (unless he's voiced over or Speaking Simlish). Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training (aka Brain Age) is a recent example.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Big Gun is an antique robot in the Dark Force Army, now reduced to a decommissioned museum piece, that resembles a boxy, antique computer but with a big gun attached. If Platinum has studied alien technology throughout the game, she can reactivate him. And upon reactivation, Big Gun speaks entirely via Bi bi? Bi bi bi bi! Bi bi electronic chirps.
  • Since Uplink is basically a Hollywood Hacking simulator, practically everything makes silly noises while the player is doing pretty much anything. The touch-tone IP dialling is especially prominent.
  • PCs in the Pokémon games beep when used.
  • Using any computer terminal in Xenogears results in a loud series of clicks as if someone tossed a handful of loose change into a clothes dryer. The noise always persists until the interface ends.
  • Team Fortress 2. Go inside any of the bases, and just try and think about anything other than, "Damn, those computers are really loud." 2Fort is the main offender, where the random beeping at times shares the same beeping sound effect that sentry turrets makes.
  • In System Shock 2, computer panels tend to make lots of noise.
  • Fallout 3 continues the ancient, tape drive, room-size computers of previous two games. Beeps included. Interaction with a computer terminal in said game series also produces beeping noises when the terminal screen is refreshing or when the player interacts with the terminal during the hacking minigames.
  • The "Item Room Ambience" in Metroid and its sequels sounds like touch-tone dial beeps.
  • Lampshaded in the Interactive Fiction game Time: All Things Come to an End. During a childhood memory sequence you must distract a physics teacher by setting a digital wristwatch. Doing so will cause all the watch alarms in the room to start beeping. Arguably Truth in Television as this feature was quite common for 1980s wristwatches.
  • In Kirby: Planet Robobot, Star Dream beeps while speaking. Its first battle theme also incorporates beeping as part of a song.
  • CrazyBus is well known for turning your MegaDrive or Genesis into one.
  • Lampshaded and Justified in Psychonauts 2: in his lab, Sasha has a bunch of computers that make beeping sounds and are covered in blinking lights. Raz can ask him if they're supposed to do that, and Sasha will respond that he likes to keep his computers in "demo mode" for the ambiance.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama:
    • Parodied, when Professor Farnsworth tries telling Fry that he has to wait for two specific beeps from the computer before analyzing is done. The computer seems to deliberately mock Fry by beeping in everything but the specified way.
    • Also parodied when Bender was running a computer dating service and ran Zapp Brannigan's preference card through the Computer Data Matchupifier (read: crumpling it up and throwing it in his chest compartment), making beeps and boops to trick Zapp think it was actually having something done.
    • Boxy, Calculon's robot sidekick who's basically a mainframe on tank treads. He can communicate anything with a single, nondescript beep.
  • Parodied in, despite the show's reliance on Bamboo Technology, a Captain Caveman short on the 1980s series The Flintstone Comedy Show. In one episode, Cavey shows Betty and Wilma his "crime computer" which he feeds clues into for analysis, then activates the computer, with various computer beeping noises being made. Cut to the inside of the "computer," where we see it's powered by two birds—the first bird serves as a record player needle, playing a record of beeping computer noises; the second bird's job was to do the actual clue analysis, then chisel the results onto a stone "punch card" and spit the card out of a slot. Possibly lampshaded by Cavey who, after he gets the results, notes: "now that scientific!"
  • An episode of Garfield and Friends features in one episode Jon going on a dating game show, which presents a large, impressive looking mainframe computer that Jon's dating data is fed into, in order to match him with a prospective date. The back of the computer reveals it's just a giant cardboard prop, with some guy whose job it is to take the fed-in-data, press a tape recorder playing computer-beeping-noises for a few moments, then spit out pre-written "results" through a slot.
  • The episode of Arthur where Arthur visits the sanitation center. The back room looks like some kind of James Bond villain's base, with walls of mainframe computers covered in blinkenlights that are constantly beeping. A bit... dated for a '90s show, as you can imagine.
  • Mr. Socrates is a sentient computer that parcels out the assignments to the heroes of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids. And strangely enough, he's allergic to dogs—namely the kids' dog Elvis.
  • Any cartoon based on DC Comics property does this, especially when Batman family characters are involved. From the Watchtower in Justice League to Mount Justice in Young Justice, every computer, whether physical or holographic, has a non-stealthy, ear-piercing sequence of beeps to let the viewers know that Wayne Enterprises is at the top of the computer game.
  • In "The Library" on Peppa Pig, when Daddy Pig's library book is scanned in as ten years overdue, the library computer actually sounds and flashes a siren and displays a frowny face.
    • "Mummy Pig At Work", a episode where Daddy fixes Mummy Pig's computer displays a similar example.
  • In the "Kip Comes To His Senses" episode of Word Party, Kip's new toy, the Bopping Beetle, plays sounds that gives CrazyBus' soundtrack a run for it's money.
  • Clone High: Usually parodied.
    • When Mr. Scudworth types on his computer, it makes funny sounds. Specifically the "Quack" and "Sosumi" sounds from Macintosh operating systems.
    • When Mr. B runs Gandhi's symptoms of ADDnote  through his computer, he sounds like a human imitating "beeping computer" sounds.

    Real Life 
  • Windows:
    • Windows used to be replete with useless noises whenever things happen or actions are taken: computer startup, computer shutdown, minimizing a window, un-minimizing a window, closing a window, ending a program, clicking on anything, showing a dialogue box, error messages, etc. The Microsoft Plus add-on for Windows 95 added a number of sound packs to match a set of themed desktop backgrounds and icon packs, as did several third-party applications. This was all very impressive when 256-colour graphics and the ability to play recorded music and sound effects was still something of a novelty for most PC users, but it only sounded any good if you had a soundcard (it would be a few more years before motherboards with integrated sound chips became the norm- however sound cards are already pretty much prevalent by the time Windows 95 rolled around, with Creative's SoundBlaster and its multitude of clones being the defacto card at the time), otherwise the PC speaker would try to reproduce the sound effects with about as much audio fidelity as the speaker in a really cheap telephone handset (if it would play at all- in its normal configuration, Windows 95 does not see the PC speaker as a valid audio device, It only does when a special driver from the Microsoft BBS/FTP is downloaded and installed). And even if you did have the proper sound hardware, the cutsey themed sound clips stopped being entertaining after the first few repetitions and were quickly muted- even worse, it also conflicted with software like MP3 players, video players and Games, who'd end up fighting for the privilege to play sound as Windows does not actively mix audio from individual software and requires them to fight for the hardware. Windows XP and onwards toned things down significantly: By default the MessageBeep function will only trigger in limited circumstances, making Windows use largely silent.
    • Then there's togglekeys which makes the computer beep when you turn num, caps or scroll lock on or off. (it's turned on by holding numlock for 5 seconds.) This serves an actual purpose however, as many people write looking at the keys instead of the screen, and you wouldn't notice if you accidentally hit one of those keys and started writing only garbage.
  • Windows CE and other operating systems for mobile devices make a click when any key is pressed for audible feedback when using an onscreen keyboard and a touchscreen. Modern mobile OSes may substitute a quick pulse of the phone's vibrate function for a more discrete (and more tactile) form of feedback.
  • In Mac OS 8.5, Apple added Appearance Sounds (originating from the Copland project.) Appearance Sounds made noises whenever you clicked on various interface widgets and while you were dragging or scrolling around various objects, even panning in stereo from one side of the screen to the other, and there were numerous plugins available featuring sounds ripped from various movies and TV shows to give your Mac the feel of a "real" Hollywood Computer. The feature was seen as a useless and rather annoying gimmick by nearly everyone, and vanished in OS X until a 3rd-party version named Xounds was written by fans.
    • Panning noises and noises specific to the functions being used are put to rather cool use in the program Tux Paint, a Paint program designed to be used by young children without much (if any) adult supervision (you can even trap the mouse inside the window and turn off the Exit button). Every tool you use makes some sort of noise that helps the child understand better what is going on.
  • In an example which might have started this trope, some old text terminals were programmed to make a click or beep every time a character was input through the keyboard; the speaker was often part of the keyboard itself. This traces back to noisy teletypes and typewriters which these terminals replaced; the idea that printing could be silent did not occur immediately after technology made it possible. These terminals would issue a longer beep each time they received the ASCII BEL character (^G), which rang an actual bell on teletypes; even today, many console programs will beep in response to this control character.
  • A similar evolution happened with cell phones: even now, you can configure something as advanced as an iPhone to play DTMF tones when number keys are touched, simply because users of touch dial phones are sometimes used to them. All that beeping has a purpose: feedback. With each number having a distinct sound you can tell when you misdial a common number, it sounds wrong. On a real touch tone phone, pressing two keys at the same time produced a clearly wrong noise. With address books and call logs it's all kind of pointless on a modern cell phone. DTMF tones are still relevant - automated phone systems use them to know the selection you've just made. While newer systems exist that support voice recognition in which you can just speak your selection clearly into the mouthpiece, most also support DTMF tones as a fallback in cases where the user will have difficulty in speech recognition situations. For example, a noisy environment or heavy accent. Additionally they are actually how telephone exchanges know what number you dialed. Phone lines were designed for the transmission of sound, so they transmitted everything, including dialled numbers, by sound. That is why even some more modern phones with auto-dial etc. still play the "number" through when connecting. You could, many years ago, hold the handset up to a TV commercial playing DTMF tones for a phone number, and the number would be dialed. (The commercial has long since stopped playing.) However, this is not relevant in modern cellular phone situations where the number is transmitted digitally out-of-band, in this case the DTMF is only relevant for interacting with automated phone systems.
    • Modern smartphones usually also have a system setting that punctuates your UI interactions with sound. This setting, of course, is optional.
    • Soft keyboards can also punctuate your key presses with sound. This was initially implemented to help users transition from the physical keyboards of early smartphones to the virtual keyboards of later models. Some soft keyboards also allow you to choose between different sounds, such as low-pitched boops or even typewriter-like sounds.
    • The Facebook app is chock full of audible feedback on events such as posting a picture or tapping the Share button. It is believed that this function was implemented to make the app addictive: every time you use the app, you are rewarded with a pleasant sound.
  • Many PC units to this day have internal speakers which the BIOS uses to indicate the status of the hardware; they normally sound a single beep shortly after the initial power-on to indicate a lack of major problems. Multiple or unusually long beeps are used to indicate specific hardware errors that prevent the computer from booting up; their exact meanings are usually listed in a printed troubleshooting guide. The reason BIOS beep codes exist of course is that when your video display is not working, or you're not able to load enough of your operating system to display text, driving a primitive speaker requires almost no software support. note 
  • Many versions of the ubiquitous network diagnostic tool ping can be set to beep as long as the connection between two devices is okay. When the beeping stops, the network technician knows that he unplugged the right cable.
  • Particularly unnerving in computer labs where one of them beeps for some reason but you're not sure which.
  • The doors of the new type of streetcars in Vienna beep every time somebody presses the door opener.
  • Nullsoft made an application that can make your windows PC sound like computers sound in movies.
  • Cisco has a networking simulation program called Packet Tracer that includes a lot of annoying noises for different actions, like mechanical grinding noises accompanying drop down menus.
  • Old dial-up modems when connecting. To a (old-school) nerd, that sound is as comforting as an audiophile hearing the sound of a needle being placed on vinyl. (Or reminds us of the "I hope Mom/Dad didn't hear that" wince we made if we'd snuck down go online at 3 AM and didn't know how to avoid the noise.)
    • The noises were useful because, if the connection was not made and you knew the noises, you could tell where it had failed.
    • You can also configure them to keep the speaker on after the handshake. Obviously, this has never been a very common configuration, except among technicians troubleshooting line issues.
  • Programs for some older home computers were encoded as bleeps and noises on cassette tapes, basically like recording data sent over a phone modem into an audio tape. The ZX Spectrum and TI-99 home computers play these noises while loading programs. If you have a vintage computer that loads programs off tapes, you can play the tapes into a modern computer and burn them to CD or save them to MP3. Then you can play the audio into the old computer and it should load the program without wearing out your vintage tapes. The Supercharger adapter for the Atari 2600 game console likewise allows loading of data from cassettes. These sounds are not intended for the user to hear. But tones indicating the loading status, and matching a graphical feedback, are played through the TV speakers.
    • In addition to that, some of those computers as at the very least the Amstrad CPC would hum and produce chirping sounds audible through the speaker if volume was high enough and no music was being played, that would vary depending whether a program was being run or not.
  • Contemporary computers still make a variety of unintentional noises when operating. Even taking the loud and soon-to-be-hopefully-obsolete hard disk drives out of the question, modern CPUs under load rapidly cycle no-power and full-power states. The metal on the heatsinks used to keep those modern CPUs from melting expand and contracts very quickly as the thermal power fluctuates, which turns into faint vibration, i.e. sounds. Yes, if you listen closely, you can literally hear a modern CPU working, with the exact noise changing with the workload. If you have any audio hardware installed, current (as in, Voltage) microfluctuations from all the computer's components going into similiar load-halt cycles will also produce some faint noise on the audio hardwares output. There's a number of similiar effects that will probably prevent computers from being truly silent for as long as they use electricity. Those sounds can actually be a security risk, leading to a class of side channel attack called acoustic cryptanalysis. An attacker can, for instance, learn something about cipher keys and/or data being processed, based on characteristic sounds of encryption, decryption, signing, etc., and the amount of time spent on each. That said, social engineering always has been, and always will be, the most effective attack in general.
  • If your hard drive starts making loud periodic clicking sounds, you're in deep trouble (e.g. stuck spindle or bad heads).
  • The old 5¼" MFM, RLL and ESDI hard drives, particularly the Seagate ST-225 and its related models, produced a loud and rather high pitched beep with every track step as the head actuator seeked across the platters. Many late 80's and early 90's TV shows either used a recorded single such beep or artificially created one then played it repeatedly without any variation whenever a desktop computer was on screen. More realistic would have been randomly playing the beep rapidly a random number of times to simulate hard drive activity.
  • Some antivirus and antimalware programs emit a sharp detection sound when spotting possible infections.
    • The Avast Antivirus is infamous for punctuating virus database updates with a very loud "PLONK!!!!!! Your virus database has been updated".
  • Validated by Mars Curiosity's Mission Control, in which a flurry of beeps and chirps can be heard during the rover's arrival at Mars...and no known Ax-Crazy experienced by NASA scientists.
  • The IBM 1401 was built in a time before the FCC limited RF emissions by electronics equipment; it was therefore much "noisier" in the RF spectrum than modern computers. This had the unintended effect that an AM radio would pick up a specific note for each instruction. It was thus possible for an operator familiar with the machine to recognize jobs by the sequence of notes they played - a real-life classic Beeping Computer! Another method of making Mainframes and Minicomputers produce noises during normal program execution was to hook up a speaker circuit to one of the accumulator bits or processor status flip-flops; though a few computers such as the DEC PDP-12 actually offered this as a standard feature, it was installed on many others as a site-specific hack.
  • Atari BASIC on the Atari 8-bit computers would beep every time you struck a key while writing a program.
  • Most higher end computer power supplies actually click when powering on and off due to the multitude of relays located within one (as opposed to mostly silent transistor-based gates used in mainstream and lower end power supplies).
  • The Elliott 903 computer (or at least one example at The National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park) has a switch to allow engineers to listen to CPU operations.
  • You've probably seen ads for some service that has a website or operates solely online, which shows someone visiting the site and hearing an audible "click" that's clearly from the computer, not the mouse. Many computer mice do click when the button is pushed, but the computer itself no longer does.
  • The Sega Dreamcast is somewhat remembered for the amount of noise it makes. For starters, the VMU emits an elongated beep if its batteries are dead when the system is powered on, and it beeps whenever you save your game. Perhaps more notably is its disc drive — the motor used to move the laser pickup back and forth is obnoxiously noisy, making a very loud grinding sound. It's so noisy in fact that many people have initially been misled to believe something was wrong with their console.
  • Very old mainframe computers were designed to execute only one program at a time, and often included a bell or a buzzer to alert the operator to program execution having completed and the processor being halted. This sound could also indicate a processor error condition, typically some sort of arithmetic overflow.
  • Digital watches which bleeped on the hour used to be very popular in the 1980s and 1990s, notoriously causing disturbances in schools and concerts; often the wearer would not know how to silence these.
  • "Human fruit machines" sometimes seen at summer fairs feature three people sitting in a line, who each hold up a piece of fruit. These people often make lots of beeping noises before holding up their fruit, to imitate a fruit machine.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Beeping Computer, Machines That Go PING


Hacking Hawkins Highschool

Dustin's Teen Genius girlfriend Suzie does him a favor and hacks into the Hawkins Highschool system to change Dustin's Latin score from a D to an A.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / SchoolGradeHacking

Media sources: