UPDATE: thanks all, lots of good discussion but I think this question is a bit too vague to be answerable. I'm casting my own close vote against it and will re-ask a more specific one.
Specifically I think there's really two questions here:
- when did beeping first replace a more physical alarm/alert
- when did beeping first replace a physical "click" or "snap" of a button
The question #1 re. alarms/alerts I think is a ± unanswerable case of "convergent evolution" that happened as various objects progressed from mechanical to electronic to "app store download" implementations. (Vehicle "backup beeps" have their own history, beeping watches have their own history, digital egg timers have their own history, TV show time bomb tropes their own, etc. etc.)
The specific history of a terminal beep could be asked as a Q&A just to fill in this SE subdomain but I'll leave that to someone else if they'd like.
What was the first non-vehicle machine to "beep" instead of a physical switch "click" or a mechanical bell "ding"? Would it have been a "computer" per se, or some other sort of electronics like a clock/timer or machine controller?
I'm assuming the account at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_character is relatively uncontroversial as far as the progression from typewriter bells, to teletype/terminal feedback, to the GUI alert "bonk" we had until web and mobile apps took over. But I'm not convinced all usages of a "beep" could be traced back to the typewriter bell — at least in my mind that's a narrower range of usages that doesn't include things like "your casserole is probably done" or "this button feels so terrible you'll need some other way to know if you've pressed it or not".
I found an article titled "The birth of the electronic beep, the most ubiquitous sound design in the world" which sounded promising but basically says "Sputnik invented beeping and it was exciting, but now there's lots of beeping and it is concerning" which makes no sense to me. Radio telegraphy would have been beeping long before 1957 just for one counter-example. And "Things that Beep: A Brief History of Product Sound Design" gives some examples but is more concerned with exploring a general nostalgic ambience of sound design than any exact history.
"The ubiquity of the modern beep" comes the closest perhaps to pointing to specific origins:
The word "beep" is not very old. The onomatopoeic expression of "beep-beep" for a car horn only goes back to 1929, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. And the use of "beep" in the sense of a short, high-pitched sound is first recorded in an Arthur C Clarke science-fiction story in 1951.
Was the 1951 science-fiction story reference related to a human-computer interface, and did it actually predate real-world usage of short high-pitched (electronic) sounds in that context? Did games (e.g. "The Beeping, Gargling History of Gaming’s Most Iconic Sounds") help cement the association of "beeping" with electronics or was that already well established before game developers took advantage of the available hardware for their own sound effects?
Was there a notable product when a beeper replaced tactile feedback for the first time, e.g. a keypad that electronically beeped instead of physically clicking? Was there a clear transition in interface design when "beeping" became its own thing distinct from earlier bells/ringers in things like clocks or fire alarms?