For the next two weeks we’re hunting Easter eggs!

For the next two weeks we're hunting Easter eggs

It’s almost 40 years since the first Easter egg appeared in a computer program. We take a look at the phenomenon and encourage you to find the Easter egg in this blog!

It was in 1979 that the first Easter egg appeared in the video game. The game was ‘Adventure’ and it was played on the Atari 2600 game console. At the time, Atari did not credit the programmers who developed the games; apparently, because Atari didn’t want competitors to poach their game-programmers. Warren Robinett, who wrote Adventure, disagreed with this company policy and decided to acknowledge his own work by putting a message “Created by Warren Robinett” in the game.

Type "Google in 1998" into Google's search box, and it shows you how the search engine looked in 1998

Obviously, he had to hide the message so his superiors would not see it. He hid it at a certain place in the game and the message would only appear if the player’s avatar moved over a specific pixel.

Atari got feedback from gamers about this mysterious message that would pop up in the game and management initially wanted to remove it. It would, however, be costly to distribute new versions of the game – no online update in 1979 – so instead the manager of software development, Steve Wright, decided to see it as an opportunity.

Why not encourage such messages in future games?

It could add some extra fun to the games when the gamers were hunting for what he described as Easter eggs.

Ever since, Easter eggs in games have been prevalent. I just asked my son if there are any Easter eggs in his favourite game at the moment, Fortnight, and yes, of course, there are. Among others, gnomes seem to appear randomly inside walls. Yes, strange. But it is a strange – strange as in funny – shoot’em up game where you are flying in party buses and doing dance moves, including the ‘floss’.

Business software and Time Machines

Easter eggs are not, however, limited to games.

The Flight Simulator in Excel97 was one of the more comprehensive Easter eggs where you could fly around on a planet and with a bit of navigation find the almost obligatory credits to the developers. With Microsoft’s ‘Trustworthy Computing’ initiative in 2002, the company officially stopped including Easter eggs in its programs.

Google has also joined in the fun. If you type “Google in 1998” into Google´s search box (without quotes), and it shows you how the search engine looked in 1998. You can return to the present, by clicking on “Take me back to the present”. You can also try these:

  • Type “Do a Barrel Roll” into Google´s search box;
  • Type “Askew”; or
  • Play Breakout on Google Images! Type “atari breakout” in the Google Image search box.

If you have any favourite Easter eggs or very rare, almost unknown examples, please let us know in the comment field.

Oh, and remember there’s an Easter egg somewhere on this page. Happy hunting!

Dan Mygind

Author: Dan Mygind

Dan is a Journalist and Computer Scientist with a strong interest in technology, technology-related businesses, and the transforming effect source code can have on society.
He has worked for startups, SMEs and global IT-organisations such as IBM as a developer, consultant, and IT-architect. With a solid technology background, he has written extensively for a wide variety of publications such as Computerworld as well as writing technical white papers for Microsoft and other companies.
He is also a published author, ‘World Storytellers

Contact Dan Mygind: mygind{at}writeit{dot}dk

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the view and opinion of Curo Talent.

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