There are hundreds of phones out there, but the iPhone's Tri-Tone is, without a doubt, the most iconic phone sound in the world. As its creator Kelly Jacklin says, it shows up in every TV show and movie—"it became international short-hand for you have a text message."
In 1999, Jacklin sold Tri-Tone to the makers of SoundJam along with all the sounds in the video above these lines. Apple bought SoundJam and all its assets when Steve Jobs wanted to make the iPod. SoundJam then became iTunes. Many years later, Jobs and his team needed a sound for the iPhone's text message alert and he—probably after obsessively listening to all of the sounds that Apple had a thousand times—picked the sound that you all know and love (or hate, depending on who's sending the message.)