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I found an easter egg from 1977 (selectbutton.net)
183 points by rkuykendall-com 78 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 27 comments

While I am not implying these were used as such, another purpose these complicated sequences can hold is as a code trap for clone detection.

Code Traps:


And the discussion here a month ago about code traps: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20312256

Along similar lines in both the digital and non-digital world people would include false landmarks and roads on maps to detect copying, since while facts are not protected, fake places are https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trap_street

When I was at Malwarebytes we would seed our engine with "malware" that was just programs we created on an airgapped machine so we could see when other companies were just blatantly copying us.

We actually discovered that one Chinese company was- https://forums.malwarebytes.com/topic/29681-iobit-steals-mal...

Interesting, how did Malwarebytes started (the business), how did they aqcuaire the database initially?

It was originally started on a web forum by a few people making it as a hobby, but it got popular quickly. The database was all built in house.

Slightly related: The "stone louse" is a trap like this, too: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_louse

Oh, that was actually funny IMO :-)

Dictionaries make up words for this reason...


The source write-up for those looking to bypass Twitter: https://selectbutton.net/t/i-found-an-easter-egg-from-1977/8...

Wow. Montgomery Ward -- source of the ad dating the game -- doesn't even exist anymore:

Montgomery Ward Inc. is the name of two historically distinct American retail enterprises. It can refer either to the defunct mail order and department store retailer, which operated between 1872 and 2001, or to the current catalog and online retailer also known as Wards.


I was thinking "Does Montgomery Ward even exist anymore? I can't recall the last time I saw one." I searched and, to my surprise, the Wards.com website came up.

Then I checked Wikipedia. Nope, it is not the website for the now defunct department store chain. It's a different entity.

Way back Atari didn't used to give credit to individual programmers - these easter eggs were a pretty common response:



Ready Player One would be quite different if the main character has to type a sequence of 48 characters before falling into the ice

In a sense adding the code to handle inputting the numbers wasn't even necessary, this easter egg is already readable by looking at the ROM dump itself, so already does its job that way

Particularly when you consider that without the rom dump, it would be impossible to discover this code.

Why make the code so absurdly long? Even by the most conservative and/or optimistic estimate, that code is well beyond what could be randomly guessed.

Maybe so that Mr. Glass could prove to someone non-technical that he wrote it by providing the passcode directly, whether to friends or family for "cool points" or in a legal dispute over authorship/credit/royalty rights.

Thanks. Now that you mention it, I think your scenario is 100% right! The code was long exactly because no one was ever supposed to find it, it was supposed to be for the author to use.

”In the case of Spitfire, pressing “1” starts a 2-player game and pressing “2” starts a 1-player game against the CPU”

Not the best of choices, I would say. Alternatively, what do I miss here?

The infamous “Adventure” Easter egg, widely referred to as the first one, is from 1979. This predates it by around two years.

It's been known for quite a while that Adventure's egg wasn't the first (although Warshaw did get a lot of acknowledgement and visibility when his was believed to be the first, so it was good that we thought his was the first for a while). I think this is the third one found on the Channel F, all of which predate Adventure. Plus, somewhere in the middle, there was an arcade game named Starship 1 that also had an egg.


mkglass on Reddit suspects it may be his father that did this. He made games for Atari and other companies. Unfortunatley he passed in 2005. https://www.reddit.com/r/retrogaming/comments/clom9n/someone...

The passcode contains almost as many bits as the message it displays ...

This post seems recent, Im pretty sure this has been known for years.

Edit: I was wrong, I was thinking of the Starship 1 easter egg mentioned in the Q&A. I knew easter eggs earlier than Adventure had been discovered.

Well, HN allows interesting reposts that haven't shown up in the last year or so. It was new and interesting to me, at least.

And I thought you found an actual Easter egg, i.e a painted egg. We have a couple from the 80s.

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