The Weird Story of the Founding of Beats Headphones

I have more headphones and earbuds than I’ll ever need–and there isn’t a Beats model among them. I have no interest in these overpriced, ridiculously bass-y social status accessories. Nope, not me.

However, I am fascinated in the company’s story. UPROXX just published this look at where Beats came from. It’s…interesting.

Tomorrow, Apple will likely debut the new iPhone 7, and along with it a host of new headphones from Beats. Beats arrived at Apple, however, through one of the most convoluted and unlikely stories in tech history. It’s a story of a major company that thought it was exploiting a celebrity only to discover, too late, that the celebrity was hustling them instead. And it’s both a fascinating tale and a warning to consumers who might find themselves suddenly being pushed, hard, to buy Beats.

The Founding Of Beats

The official story behind Beats is straightforward: Music impresario Jimmy Iovine and titan of rap Dr. Dre viewed Apple’s cheap earbuds with scorn and decided, if their music was going to get stolen, then at least the thieves should listen to it with the best equipment possible. After consulting with some of the hottest artists of 2006, Iovine and Dre launched Beats. What isn’t mentioned in that tale of “how it all began” is Monster Cable, the company which did the actual engineering of the headphones.

Monster Cable, founded by Noel Lee in the late ’70s, was, at the time, notable for overpriced cables and litigation. If you had “Monster” in your name, whether you were a mini-golf course or a thrift shop, a famous energy drink or Disney, Monster would sue. For a time, Monster’s frivolous lawsuits were a running joke in the tech press, but the jokes covered up a darker side of the company.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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