The bizarre tradition of the tech-based Easter egg as we know it today was popularized in the last century, in 1979 to be exact. It first appeared in a computer game known as Adventure by Atari Inc.
The EGG was referenced in a secret message for gamers to decode the person that programmed Adventure.
While Atari did not display due credit of its programmers at the time, a rogue employee (Warren Robinett) chose to do so, albeit in a hidden message.
For anyone playing the game to see the hidden code, he was required to move his avatar over a gray dot pixel during a specific moment in the game.
The following hidden message would then pop up:
‘Created by Warren Robinett’
It was only a matter of time before a curious gamer stumbled upon the secret, and so did Atari. Much as the design went against their protocols, Atari would later include similar Easter eggs in its new games, to spice up the gaming experience.
The Other Easter Eggs Away from Technology
While Easter eggs today are symbolized through chocolates, painted eggs, Easter bunnies, Easter egg hunts, business eggs, and of course software code, the old school egg was natural and regarded humbly as a representation of life, rebirth, and fertility.
The chicken-based egg has always been a popular gift during Easter and springtime after it has been boiled and painted/dyed.
The ancient cultures in Egypt, Persia, China, and Rome exchanged eggs as gifts to celebrate life.
Christians too, indulge in Easter eggs but view it as more of a celebration of Jesus being crucified and arising three days later.
A legend is told of how Mary Magdalene went to the emperor of Rome and told him about the resurrection of Jesus. His response was,
‘Oh, yeah, right, and those eggs over there are red, too’
Following his words, the the referenced eggs on the table turned red!
Also, in early Christian cultures and medieval Europe, eggs were not eaten during lent, not until Easter celebrations.
In China, life as we know it started inside an egg. A god/goddess grew up inside an egg and cracked it open in two pieces in a bid to get out.
The upper part of the egg became the sky and the lower, the earth. The bigger the god/goddess grew the higher went the sky, away from the earth
The Greeks painted their eggs red and walked down the street to toast to the life of Jesus. When two people met, they tapped their eggs against each other and said,
‘Christ is risen‘
The Germans ate their eggs colored green on Thursday, a day before Easter Friday.
Cutting across traditions, eggs were dyed in different colors to portray different meanings and traditions. The following were popular colors open for interpretation:
- Green by boiling them in leafy vegetables
- Red by boiling them in beetroot
- Yellow by boiling them with onions
- Brown by boiling them with tea
- Black by painting them with charcoal
The Easter Egg in Technology
Back in the world of technology, the Easter egg continues to be the secret ingredient in programs, with users being challenged to decode the hidden messages – just for fun.
Like was the case in Adventure, hidden messages continue to give credit to the men behind software design and coding. It is more of a secret room of features for users to derive fun.
Here are some popular tech Easter eggs though the years:
In Firefox, type the following and observe:
In Google, type the following and observe:
- blink HTML
- is Google down?
- type =rand(200,99) in Word
- Create folders with these names – CON, AUX, PRN