It took 37 years to find this Easter egg in Windows 1.0

mongeese

Posts: 601   +121
Staff member
What just happened? Almost four decades on, a hidden feature of Windows 1.0 has been found for the first time. It's an Easter egg saying "congrats!" that contains the names of the original Windows developers.

Lucas Brooks discovered the Easter egg inside of a bitmap of a smiley face while exploring the depths of Microsoft's first graphical OS. It's the only form of credits in Windows 1.0 and maybe the only acknowledgment of some of the developers that heralded the now-dominant consumer OS.

In fact, Easter eggs were first created to give credit to developers. In the early 80s, Atari didn't include credits in their games, so Warren Robinett hid his name inside a secret room. His boss, Steve Wright, defended the idea and coined the term "Easter egg" to describe it.

A few years later, Microsoft released Windows 1.0 in 1985. It wasn't yet tradition to include a credits page as an Easter egg, which might've been why the Windows team hid theirs well-enough that users wouldn't find it for another 37 years.

According to Brooks, the Easter egg was encrypted inside the bitmap that housed it so that even if a developer looked at the bitmap, they wouldn't see the Easter egg. And at the time, the tools to extract a bitmap from an NE (new executable) file didn't even exist.

In subsequent versions of Windows, from 1.01 to 3.0 and beyond, similar Easter eggs containing developers' names could be called up onscreen by pressing a sequence of keys. Brooks believes that a code like that also exists for Windows 1.0's credits, but who knows if we'll ever find it.

If you watched Brooks' video, you might've noticed an Easter egg inside the Easter egg. One of the developers whose name appears is Gabe Newell, Valve's co-founder and president. Newell dropped out of Harvard in 1983 to join Microsoft and worked on the first few versions of Windows before leaving the company with Mike Harrington in 1996 to start Valve together.

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brucek

Posts: 1,152   +1,711
I'd argue that if they don't know how to raise this dialog, they still haven't found it.
 

BobHome

Posts: 148   +59
There was a reason Atari stopped listing their developers: other companies would poach them if they could for their talent. :) :(
 

Aaron Fox

Posts: 153   +90
There was a reason Atari stopped listing their developers: other companies would poach them if they could for their talent. :) :(
ROM space was extremely precious in the early going. Text took a lot of space. The Fairchild VES and the 2600 shipped with some 2K ROM games. 2K!

Developers may have thought their vanity is more important but game quality suffered from the need to reduce game complexity to stuff more into tinier ROM sizes. Dungeons of Daggorath was supposed to get procedural level generation but the developer was told to cut the game down to 16K, which was massive when compared with what early Atari systems worked with for most/all of their lifespans. Only at the very end of the 2600's unusually long life did about two 16K games come out.

Wozniak earned a lot from Atari from cutting the ROM Breakout needed in half. Jobs stole most of that money from him. What a great friend he was. He also told a court he was impotent or sterile to try to evade paying child support for his daughter Lisa. That's the sort of character that impresses the MBA/CEO class, though. Grifting one's way into fame and fortune, like Musk.

Anyway... Atari should have put developer names on the box and developers shouldn't have used ROM space. Poaching is a risk regardless. There is room, though, on floppy disks and tapes for a bit of text. So, such games and other programs for Atari 8-bit and later computers could handle credit easter eggs.