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Easter Eggs in the Tech World

By April 15, 2022No Comments

Did you know that easter eggs aren’t just a chocolate treat?  The “Easter Egg” has become associated in the tech world and can be found in video games, movies, TV commercials, DVDs, CDs, CD-ROMs and every so often in hardware.  Easter eggs usually serve no practical purpose other than to entertain. They may incorporate references to pop culture, or they can be obscure in-jokes among programmers.

In Applications

Very often, pressing some key combination when the About box is open (Help/About) displays the names of the developers who worked on the software. A video game might display the game designer’s name when a certain maneuver is completed.

The Media

A movie or TV Easter Egg could be a date on a calendar of a famous event that provides a clue to the movie’s ending. 

The right menu sequence on a DVD might produce extra trailers, and extra bonus tracks (extra goodies) may also be called Easter Eggs.

In Hardware

A hardware Easter Egg might play a song if a certain key combination is pressed. 

While there are over thousands hidden below we share some of our favourites and where you can come across your easter eggs while on the hunt plus Google’s 7 Easter Eggs.

 

Atari’s Adventure Game

Adventure is often credited as being the game that re-kindled and re-purposed the use of the term Easter egg. Players who navigated and performed a specific action in one of the game’s catacombs would gain access to a secret room that simply displayed a message from the developer: “Created by Warren Robinett.”

Apple Macintosh SE Development Team

The original Apple Macintosh had an image of the computer’s development team hidden away in the ROM which wasn’t that easy to access. On the Apple Macintosh SE all you had to do was hit the debug button and then type ‘G 41D89A’ to be presented with this dithered masterpiece. 

Windows 3.1 Development Team

When Windows 3.1 was released, the coders managed to slip in an egg.  Users needed to hold Ctrl+Alt+Shift while navigating to the About section of the Program Manager where they could then double-click on the various coloured segments in the Windows logo. Eventually, a small chalkboard would appear scrolling the developers’ names.  And if you searched enough the user would even occasionally get an adorable graphic of what’s known as the Microsoft Bear.

The Konami Code

This has been referred to “The Mother of all Easter eggs”.  The Konami Code—as it has come to be known—was a cheat code designed for the original NES. Kazuhisa Hashimoto was tasked with porting the 1985 arcade game Gradius to the home console, but found the game too hard to play while testing. He included a small bit of code that instantly gave him a full set of power-ups whenever he entered the sequence: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A. To a child of the ’80s, reciting that sequence is as easy as reciting the alphabet.

Excel 97’s Hidden Flight Simulator

Some of the most popular Easter eggs were games hidden in software designed for less-entertaining purposes.  Microsoft Office developers working on Excel 97 included a full-on flight simulator complete with procedurally-generated terrain.  Accessing it required a series of specific actions as well as a long code so you already had to be in the know in order to find it. 

Google Maps Swimming Directions

Google has been pulling fun pranks and hiding Easter eggs on its pages since the beginning. One of the first to really spread across the internet was discovered shortly after Google Maps was introduced. 

When you ran out of drivable roads and reached the coast, it told users to “Swim across the Atlantic Ocean.” These days Google and its various sub-pages are chock full of Easter eggs and surprises, from causing it to snow on your search results, to even using the Konami Code in Google Docs!

A Hidden Message In Tesla’s Model X Teaser

There are still thousands of eggs we haven’t mentioned but we wanted to leave you with one of our favs.

Tesla’s Elon Musk had posted an obscure black and white teaser image of his company’s upcoming Model X electric SUV on Twitter. If you drag the image into Photoshop and fully analyze it, it includes a hidden message only revealed when you started tweaking the levels: “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” As cryptic as the Model X’s silhouette.

More Places You Can Find Easter Eggs

  • Asking voice assistants like Siri and Alexa certain questions will provoke humorous responses.
  • Other search engines besides Google include jokes and animations that can be discovered by entering specific search queries.
  • iOS and Android operating systems contain hidden games and apps.
  • Comic books and movies include Easter eggs in the form of subtle references to other media or real-world events.
  • It’s possible to play knock-off versions of Tetris on the HP 54600B oscilloscope.
  • The original Apple Macintosh computer includes hidden messages in its hardware BIOS.
  • DVD and Blu-ray discs sometimes contain secret content that can only be accessed via hidden menus.
  • Some microchips include microscopic artwork, called “chip art” or “chip graffiti.”
  • The book Ready Player One is all about Easter eggs and was inspired by Adventure for the Atari 2600.

Happy Hunting!

What was your favourite tech Easter egg? Did you find other cool eggs we missed? We invite you to hunt some new eggs during the weekend and share them with us. Good luck and happy hunting!

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Source:
GizModo – March 2022
PCMag – March 2022
Lifewire – March 2022
firebrand – March 2022