Brian Eno: Windows 95

How do you out-Apple Apple? Produce the greatest Producer.

In 1994, Mark Malamud and I were the design and technology leads defining the future of the Windows user interface. Windows 95 started to look like a hit product and suddenly anybody at Microsoft who knew what a pixel was wanted to mess with things. So we decided to rise above the noise.

If you think it was hard to argue the correct background color for a help icon, imagine what it took to get this done.

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 3 1/4 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.