Nothing quite lifts your mood like a pleasant little surprise – maybe a cute note in your lunch box or finding some spare change in your pocket. Well finding an Easter egg is quite the same (no, we aren’t talking about those delicious chocolatey covered snacks hidden in March or April, though those can be a nice surprise too).
Easter eggs are essentially hidden features for users to find while fiddling with the product. They can sometimes be sweet little messages or pop-culture references. They can even be a whole software feature that you never knew existed on that certain piece of tech.
The history of Easter eggs
The term dates way back to when video games were still emerging. The first recorded Easter egg was in the Atari game Adventure. One of the programmers, Warren Robinett, placed a secret message to be displayed when a player moved over a specific pixel. The message was “created by Warren Robinett” as the company did not include programmers names in the credits for fear that competitors would poach them. Since then, there have been millions of secret messages and features included in all sorts of games and tech, leading customers to search for them, much as people do on an Easter egg hunt.
Why do they do it?
There are probably many reasons why companies include Easter eggs in their tech. Maybe the programmers were just having a bit of fun. Maybe there is a complex psychology behind it, in making the tech more relatable to its customers for having quirks. The major reason is that it makes the product more interesting to use and so it boosts sales. Users might spend hours trying to find Easter eggs, giving the product more usability and after finding out about it, people may want to buy the tech and try it for themselves. Whatever the reason, Easter eggs make life interesting and will hopefully stick around as technology booms.
Some examples of Easter eggs:
Operating systems: Whichever operating system you run on your smartphone or device, you’re bound to find an Easter egg. For the purposes of not spoiling the surprise, we won’t mention all of the specifics, so try these out and see what you find: Open your smartphone’s settings and tap the version number repeatedly. Depending on the model, there are several easter eggs that can appear including minigames involving fish, sweets, and doodles.
Tesla electric cars: Tesla electric cars come with a host of Easter eggs embedded. Unfortunately, these cars aren’t as easily accessible as smartphones, but should you happen to find yourself in one, double-tap the ‘T’ on the touchscreen. The screen will change to reveal a nostalgic app for you to express your creativity with, just as you did as a child.
The internet: Many websites have their own built-in Easter eggs, so there are numerous examples. One of the more famous websites out there, IMDb, a website mainly responsible for providing film reviews has an interesting rating when users search for the 1984 rock comedy, This is Spinal Tap. This Easter egg is best understood after watching the movie.
Other software: Serious software companies that make programs for professionals can have a sense of humor too. In the Adobe Software suite, users can find a friendly alien who appears when they define print presets. It’s quite a process, so it seems the alien only visits those with a persevering attitude and deep knowledge of the software.