Easter Egg Challenge


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.


Atari 1000 case [via OldComputers]


Zune HD internals [via iFixit]

72 thoughts on “Easter Egg Challenge

    1. 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.

  1. 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)

  2. -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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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…

  7. 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”).





  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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?

  15. 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.

  16. 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..

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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).

  20. 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…

  21. 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.

  22. 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.


  23. 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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