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Easter egg (hidden)

From the custom of the Easter egg hunt observed in the U.S. and many parts of Europe, Easter eggs are hidden messages or features which may appear in movies, DVDs, books, on CDs, or in computer programs.

Digital easter eggs

In computing, Easter eggs are messages, graphics, sound effects, or an unusual change in program behaviour, that occur in a program (or sometimes, on a PC, the BIOS ROM) in response to some undocumented set of commands or keystrokes, intended as a joke or to display program credits. See also Undocumented feature. A former use of the term Easter egg was to describe a message hidden in the object code of a program as a joke, intended to be found by persons disassembling or browsing the code.

One well-known early Easter egg found in a couple of Unix operating systems caused them to respond to the command "make love" with "not war?" Many personal computers have much more elaborate eggs hidden in ROM, including lists of the developers' names, political exhortations, snatches of music, and (in one case) images of the entire development team. Microsoft Excel has a well-known car racing game secreted inside. The Palm operating system has elaborately hidden animations and other surprises. Easter eggs in computer games are distinguished from cheat codes which allow you to cheat - see Minesweeper for an example.

Based on the Jargon File.

Movie easter eggs

Especially since DVDs became popular, easter eggs have made their way into movies. An example is the DVD for The Abyss has at least nine easter eggs, including at least three different trailers for Aliens and two for True Lies, two other James Cameron films. More and more DVDs include easter eggs, although some have started advertising these on the box. These are not considered real easter eggs by some.

Compact Disc easter eggs

Some Compact Discs include hidden features which may be called easter eggs, such as screensavers for a computer which can only be accessed if the CD is played in a CD-ROM drive, or hidden music tracks appended at the end of the disc. An example of the latter is the album The World according to Gessle by Roxette's Per Gessle: at the end of the disc an unlisted accoustic version of Kix appears, sung in Elvis style.

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