Secret C64 Program Found On A Christian Rock Band’s Vinyl Record

How often do you find Easter eggs in old vinyl records?

It sure was a surprise for [Robin Harbron] when he learned about a Commodore 64 program hidden on one of the sides of a record from the 1985 album of Christian rock band Prodigal. The host of the YouTube channel 8-Bit Show and Tell shows the “C-64” etching on one side of the vinyl, which he picked up after finding out online that the record contained the hidden program.

The run-out groove on records is typically an endless groove that keeps the record player from running off the record (unless there is an auto-return feature, which just replays the record). On side one of the vinyl, the run-out groove looks normal, but on side two, it’s a little thicker and contains some hidden audio. Recording the audio onto a cassette and loading it onto a dataset reveals a short C64 program.

The process is a little more troublesome that that, but after a few tries [Harbron] reveals a secret message, courtesy of Albert Einstein and Jesus Christ. It’s not the most impressive program ever written, but it’s pretty cool that programmers 35 years ago were able to fit it into only a few seconds of audio.

Unfortunately, we won’t be hearing much actual music from the album – [Harbron] chose not to play the songs to avoid copyright issues on YouTube.

[Thanks anfegori91 for the tip!]


28 thoughts on “Secret C64 Program Found On A Christian Rock Band’s Vinyl Record

    1. Stereo recorders are strereo, so they have 2-track head. The Datassette and mod tape recorders used with home computer were mono. so it’s possible that the modo head has problem to read data written in stereo.
      Besides on hi-fi tape recorder one coul disable noise reducrion system like Dolby or Dbx. On cheap tape recordere there’s an automatic level recording control, so one could have problems. I remember that dubbing data tapes in the ’80 with tese recorders was problematic.
      On hi-fi recorders the trick, at leat with Commodoer tabes is to record ‘hot’, (at an higher level compared to audio recordings) and check for the phase inversions.

      I remember that a FM radio trasmitted programs in FM, for Oliverri M10, ZX Spectrum and Commodre 64. (In Italian)

    2. Actually, I used a stereo cassette deck. But it was from the local surplus company, the transport and electronics but no case. It also had no AGC or noise reduction. But it was more substantial than a portable caasette recorder, and I had level controls for record and playback. I had it around befipore I KIM-1 in 1979, and used it until 1984 when I got my Radio Shack Color Computer and floppy drive.

      Cheap cassette recorders had AGC, expensive tape decks didn’t, and let you decide whether to use noise reduction or not.

      1. Yeah, you had to pay more to NOT get a “feature” you didn’t want. Stupid AGCs were lousy for trying to copy loud rock and heavy metal. They’d just clamp the volume down to nothing.

  1. “Unfortunately, we won’t be hearing much actual music from the album – [Harbron] chose not to play the songs to avoid copyright issues on YouTube.”

    Again, thank you GEMA, ASCAP, BMI and all the other collecting societies for your undeniably important work.
    *plays a (pirated) sample of a microfon dropped onto the floor*

    1. I put a lot of the blame on YouTube. While they may have gotten pressure from RIAA/GEMA/whatever, they also have safe harbor on their side, which exempts them from any legal responsibility for the content that users post.

      Instead of using this, and doing any thinking about whether a video’s use of other copyrighted material constitutes fair use, YouTube created their own requirements that are significantly stricter and more arbitrary than the actual law. They can’t be bothered to stand up for their “content creators” who create the work that sells their ads. RIAA is at least trying to get theirs, perhaps heavy-handedly and odiously, but YouTube is depriving its users of their full legal rights, simply out of laziness.

      Why do users have to take it? Monopoly power.

      1. One of the problems is that the internet is global, and dealing with this separately for every country is difficult. US and UK definitions of fair use may differ. Some countries have no fair use. Some have very different copyright laws.

        One thing in YouTube’s favour is that they proactively scan content and tell you if they perceive an issue. Usually the fix is just to allow them to run ads (revenue to the copyright owner).

        Other online video providers like Vimeo don’t do this. First thing you know is you’re slapped with a take-down, and a threat to close your account – for a video you posted ages ago. I presume Vimeo are using their safe harbour here, which means it’s you who carries the can for it. That does mean you can fight it, but realistically most of us don’t want that kind of hassle or legal fee.

      2. I love my youtube ad blocker. Some of the ads youtube pushes onto users are downright offensive (not from a content perspective, just because I want to watch something without putting up with crap).
        Dowload an adblocker now!

    1. I had that. Around that time I visited London for the first time in my life, and while in Germany there were no dedicated home computer magazines on the market at this time, GB already had them, so I brought some home, and the one with the Thompson Twins adventure was amongst them. I had to play it on my cousin’s ZX Spectrum.

      But the game was crap, it was a simple adventure with bad graphics (even for the ZX Spectrum), and the loading times between the scenes were so bad, that I quickly lost interest.

  2. This reminds me of Information Society’s first album, which sported CD+G graphics throughout the whole thing that almost nobody at the time was able to play back…and Aphex Twin including graphics in some songs that can only be seen with a spectrum analyzer.

  3. im quite fond of slayer’s reign in blood album for using the runout to play an endless looping storm when the record ends. there was a time when i wouldn’t listen to slayer because i thought they were too christian.

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