Easter Egg Challenge

Beer

Often, hardware designers include nonfunctional additions into designs to make them feel more personal. Commonly known as easter eggs, these additions can often go unnoticed by the public for years. While taking apart an Atari San Francisco Rush: The Rock sound board, reader [Jason] noticed a hidden message on the PCB (see above). Other more recent hardware easter eggs include the inside of the Zune HD, which has the inscription “For our Princess” to commemorate a development team member who passed away, or the Amiga 1000 which features the signatures of the design team on the inside if the case (Pictures after the break).

What we want from you: We want to see the best HARDWARE easter eggs you have found or seen. Leave us a comment with a video, picture, or article that explains what you found, and possibly the background story behind it. Anyone can google easter eggs, and we all know about the easter eggs all over DVDs, video games, etc, but we prefer the kind you find when you are busy voiding your hardwares warranty.

Edit: good catch, that was the Amiga 1000 not an Atari 1000. Thanks to all the commentors.

A1000signatures

Atari 1000 case [via OldComputers]

bqwYvX5cRjGaUrPO.large

Zune HD internals [via iFixit]

Comments

  1. koe says:

    The signatures are from inside an Amiga 1000 (not an Atari)

  2. hacknet says:

    Atari 1000? You just lost major geek cred.

  3. marcopag says:

    Hi,all….there is a mistake….it is the top cover of an Amiga 1000…not Atari…..bleah!

    Marco

    • To be fair, the Amiga 1000 was the same team who designed the Atari 400, 800, 1200XL and the (never produced) Atari 1000…they had left Atari and spun off their own company. The Amiga was supposed to be the Atari 1600XL. Atari was the majority stakeholder in Amiga. But Jack Tramiel, having been kicked out of Commodore, “bought” Atari from Warner Brothers for (literally) a promise and tried to steal the Amiga. He lost out, and his old company got the Atari team’s design.

  4. matt says:

    Lots of designers put microscopic logos or text on chips. They can be seen with a microscope and are probably the smallest “hardware easter eggs” I’ve heard of. The Silicon Zoo (http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/creatures/logoindex.html) has a whole gallery of them. The best is a message on a VAX microprocessor to Soviet reverse engineers–it says, in Russian, “CVAX – when you care enough to steal the very best.” (http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/creatures/pages/russians.html)

  5. Rachel says:

    My MS sidewinder joystick has a bunch of signatures inside the bottom cover.

  6. matthew says:

    Along the same lines as the Amiga the original Macintosh shipped with the signatures of the designers printed on the inside cover.

    http://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?project=Macintosh&story=Signing_Party.txt&showcomments=1

  7. 0x808080 says:

    Cat on Sun SPARC IPX mobo

  8. fdsa says:

    remember that NES chip that had the mario logo in the lithography? i cant find a picture of it to save my life…

  9. gz says:

    -1000 geek points… ’cause you should know.
    -2000 editor points, because the link to old computers even says it’s the amiga.

    S’ok. We still love you, and you’re way in the plus column.

  10. googfan says:

    i had an old microsoft joystick with all of the design team’s signitures inscribed on the inside of the case…

  11. Alex G. says:

    Nokia has placed a smiley in some old cellphones.

  12. Blind says:

    I don’t remember what company it was, but there used to be a russian company that produced knock off processors. I think they were Intel designs that they stole and printed themselves, but I don’t remember for sure.

    Anyhow, on the die was a message printed in the layout. In russian it read “Slocak. When you care enough to steal the best” (where ‘Slocak’ was the name of the company”

    I heard about this years ago, so forgive me for the details. Can’t seem to find a source online right now in a 2 second search.

  13. Rob says:

    It probably doesn’t count in this case, but when I was in High School I worked for a construction company that built housing developments. In some of the houses there were open spaces that were walled off (inside decorative false chimneys for example) where I left some notes or other trinkets. I still drive by these houses and wonder if anybody ever found them during remodeling.

  14. JamesTheMad says:

    It might have well been the Atari 1000 the design team was headed up by most of the designers of the Atari 400/800. Jay Minor did most of the work on the graphics chips for both.

  15. LeonM says:

    I remember somebody on a hardware forum a few years ago who removed the die of old CPU’s (8080, 80286 etc) and placed them under an electron microscope.

    Most of them had easter eggs on the die, I remember one of them had the logo of a football team on it, and another the names of the engineers who designed it.

    I will have a look if I can find those pictures somewhere in the archive…

  16. amd says:

    FYI, I believe that isn’t a sound board from Rush, I think it was the steering wheel feedback motor driver board, although it’s been a long time…

  17. LeonM says:

    Found them, there are more pictures on the following pages of the topic. It is in dutch though…

    Topic started out as a research why a AMD thunderbird CPU had died.

    http://gathering.tweakers.net/forum/list_message/20625881#20625881

  18. wili says:

    More Amiga eggs:

    The Amiga 500 was Commodore’s best-selling Amiga model. Early units, at least, had the words “B52/ROCK LOBSTER”[26] silk-screen printed onto their printed circuit board, a reference to the popular song “Rock Lobster” by the rock band The B-52’s. Commodore’s two subsequent console style models also carried a reference to the same band on their motherboards — the Amiga 600 had “JUNE BUG” (after the song “Junebug”) and the Amiga 1200 had “CHANNEL Z” (after “Channel Z”).

    Pics:

    A500

    A600

    A700

  19. wili says:

    Smiley inside Nokia 5110 from late 90’s:

  20. Reno says:

    The boys at HP put their signatures in the inside bottom molding of their Codemaster XL Defibs back in the day, I always liked working on them and finding that. You couldn’t really see it till you stipped most of the gubbins out.

  21. Reno says:

    no edit, sad face…

    stripped of course, not stipped

  22. john says:

    Here is one on the MaxSonar EZ1 sensor available from ladyada/sparkfun : http://www.adafruit.com/blog/2009/06/23/getting-started-with-the-maxbotix-sonar-sensor-quick-start-guide/

    Look closely at the picture of the back of the printed circuit board of the sonar sensor.

  23. JON --- says:

    Maybe Ill take apart one of my atari 2600’s and see whats inside…..

  24. The Moogle says:

    take apart any DEll server and you will find tons of easter eggs though out all the parts
    Favorite one i found I think its in the 2400 series on a raid card there was a bottle with “Jim was fired for drinking” next to it

  25. tarloria says:

    All of us on the opening crew of the California Tower of Terror signed out names inside this one random room. It’s one of the ones with a window facing the front.

  26. rob says:

    on an apple mac IIci you could set the date to a particular date, reboot and hold down a set of keys and a picture of the design team would appear. i think other models had similar eggs in them.

  27. Paul J says:

    One of the coolest ones I’ve seen was the Compaq Presario with a Predator head silk-screened on it.

    This is the only example I could find of it.

    http://www.techspot.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/2861

  28. atrain says:
  29. reboots says:

    Here’s one I found on an old laptop motherboard, possibly from a Thinkpad:

    Years later, I haven’t progressed beyond my initial reaction: What the hell?

  30. Andrew S says:

    Many of the early Macs (at least up to the IIci) had the designers’ signatures inside the case.

  31. Philly says:

    Nokia N73 has a bird silkscreen onto the mainboard.

  32. zero says:

    Took apart a dawn clock/light, on the pcbs was silkscreened “sbh fecit” alongside all the meaningless model numbers and letters.

    Google turned up nothing.

    “Fecit” is latin for “Made by”

    Made by SBH, whoever the sneaky fellow who snuck that in was.

  33. Mike F. says:

    Here’s one on an old hard drive I got in my junk box. http://img260.imageshack.us/img260/1249/gtoy.jpg
    The top is missing but I’m pretty sure it’s a Maxtor. It says ‘GTO’ in the grill and ‘IV’ on the plate.

  34. Phil Burgess says:

    I had this Klipsch subwoofer for years before noticing that it goes to eleven:

  35. smellsofbikes says:

    When my dad and a couple other people working for Hewlett Packard found they had some unused space in the ROM of the function generator they were designing, they filled it with data that would allow the generator to play the Hallelujah Chorus. This was particularly impressive since it’s a single-output generator, but using arbitrary waveform generation they could make it produce four-part harmony. You get it to run by holding down a couple of buttons when you power it up.
    Here is a writeup.
    Mine still works well 25 years later.

  36. anonymous_joe says:

    Not hardware, but I loved when I found code in the old webtv plus and dishplayer that read.
    “File ROMSystem is corrupt; you’re f*cked.”

    Along with a Flintstone telephone directory with real numbers for Fred, Barney, Mr. Slate (MS Corp), Bedrock Pharmaceuticals (which was the number for Andy Rubin….former Danger.com CEO/creator of the T-Mobile Sidekick.)

    I remember calling Andy back in the day asking him about his rover bot that you could control through the internet. Circa 1999-2000ish.

  37. bob says:

    The strangest find I had was when I opened up the Star Wars: Dark Forces binary in a hex editor and found text that appeared to be from news articles about a Russian submarine. Not exactly an easter-egg and definitively not a hardware easter egg.

    A lot of the OReilly books have easter eggs in their appendix/glossaries. They are often bogus entries, or circular entries. Not sure if that counts as hardware though.

    Wasnt there an intel chip a few years back that had “Microsoft Sux” or something to that effect printed on it?

  38. Night Owl says:

    The circuit board in a Scrubbing bubbles automatic shower cleaner has “Rosie” silkscreened on it. I assumed it was a reference to Rosie the Robot from the Jetsons.

  39. Pouncer says:

    I used to work for HADCO (now SCI/Sanmina) and once we had a batch of cards come through for matrox. They were multi-layer boards and on each layer in the corner they were etched clear except for “It’s been a hard days night” each word was etched onto a different layer. It was the coolest easter egg I had seen.

  40. Grayda says:

    I still think the coolest easter egg was a scanner that used the sound the motor made to play a tune. It’s a specific model of HP’s ScanJet and played Beethoven when you turned on the scanner pressing a button. Someone claims it was a “hardware test” for tech support people, but I’m not sure..

  41. Hacksaw says:

    While not a hack it is still an easter egg.Many years back I worked for the company that made the skylights for the Mall of America.I was a builder(actually made the skylights)When I had a bad lyte (glass panel) I had to have them checked by QA…anyway one day I had one with a scratch checked and the QA guy said “it’s gonna be 150 feet off the ground…it’s good” so since I was very bored with the project I scratched “***k You” into the reflective Low-E on one and sent it.To the best of my knowledge it is still there and at one point during the day if you are in the right spot “***k You” shines on the floor 150 ft below.

  42. smokinjuan says:

    @Alex G.

    Yep. The 5190 has it on the speaker.

  43. javier says:

    While not a hack, I once had a 89 buick park avenue and when I was changing the transmission filter on it I noticed “Have you driven a Foooord lately?” stamped on the main transmission casing. It was the weirdest thing and never seen it again on any other similar gm transmissions.

  44. samurai1200 says:

    haha i guess ive been doing this for a couple years. i work for a small startup company, and occasionally i’ll do the layout for a new module design… if the board is 3 or more layers, i’ll put my name on an inner layer in copper, so you can only see it with an x-ray machine… or in copper underneath a large square of silkscreen (the white silkscreen space is usually put there for note-taking on the specific pcb, but you can see my name if you angle the board just right under the right light).

  45. Haku says:

    I spend a fair chunk of my working hours soldering circuitboards with a normal iron and also a hot air iron for the really fine pitch chip pins, I’ve been trying to get the circuitboard designer to put an R2 next to a D2 for ages but no luck. One day though, one day…

  46. FuzzyPlushroom says:

    AlphaSmart 3000. Main PCB. A smiley face, the phrase “Rise and Shout the AlphaSmart’s out!!!”, and the designers’ names. I lost the photo I took when I took my old one apart (after the LCD shattered), but here’s another.

  47. not a hack says:

    not a hack at all

  48. wbbigdave says:

    I once opened up my Metal Muff by electro harmonix to find they had printed “Metal Rules” on the inside. As far as I know they do that a lot on their pedals. I have just been reminded by the fact, so im going to go home and open all my EHX pedals.

  49. Coyotecom says:

    I’ve personally left messages in oil pencil on the bottoms of boilers, lube oil coolers, and deck plates throughout the machinery room in the nuclear carrier I was stationed on.

    “If you can read this, someone can see your flashlight”, “Kilroy was here”, and “FTN” were popular things to find down there.

    Never saw any of the reactor rooms hard to reach places, but someone DID manage to wreck a toy submarine under the reactor, which we all got to see when it was found.

    w-(‘u’)-w

  50. Ted Moyses says:

    Kinda related, we went to clock a mark 1 Gold GTI that belonged to my mates sisters boyfriend after we had ‘put a few miles’ on it early one morning. After removing the dashboard and reaching the back of the odo it said ‘Oh no, not again!’ – we never had the heart to tell him.

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