ATARI Easter egg list 


Although Atari VCS programmer Warren Robinett and his 1980 Adventure game is often regarded as the first person to hide their initials/name in a video game with the ability to trigger their appearance on the screen, we know of at least 4 programmers to do so before Warren.  Atari coin-op programmer Ron Milner included the message "HI RON!" in his Starship 1 game, which was released July 1977.  Atari coin-op programmer Owen Rubin included his initials (and those of other people) in two 1978 games - Orbit and Skydiver (the method to trigger them, if possible, is still unknown).  Fairchild Channel F programmers Brad Reid-Selth and Michael Glass put them in their games as well - Brad with 1978's Video Whizball and Michael with the original demo cart (produced in September 1977 and available soon after), which although it isn't a game (and wasn't for sale until 1979), is the earliest-known Easter egg on a video game console. 

It's unknown where Michael got the idea (he may have included them in his other games as well), but Brad mentions getting the idea to include them after learning Atari programmers were putting them in their games.  Owen doesn't recall anyone else doing it, but that "it was something most hackers did".  Warren states he was inspired by artists putting their names in their paintings.

Steve Wright (from Atari) is credited with coining the term Easter eggs (in regards to hidden surprises in video games) in a quote from an article in the 1st issue (Winter 1981) of Electronic Games magazine (pg. 14); they later confirmed this in the December 1984 issue (pg. 91).

Russ Perry Jr. and his brother, David Perry, coined the term "frying" in regards to the technique of using the power switch on a VCS to (temporarily) alter a game's code.  This article by Jens von der Heide in Electronic Fun magazine (pg. 75) may have been the first mention of how to use this trick.  TV Gamer also ran several articles that covered Easter eggs and glitches.

Some of the VCS/2600 tricks require a disassembled joystick in order to activate 2 or more directions at the same time (for LEFT+RIGHT combinations, the paddle FIRE buttons can be used).

This is the most comprehensive listing of all the presently-known facts and is continuously being revised.  It's not my intention to take credit away from those people who first discovered some of information presented in this section (Easter eggs, tricks, bugs, etc), however, credit is only given to the earliest-known published account.  If you know of any tricks, glitches, or hidden messages not listed here, or feel any of the info here is incorrect, email me. Thanks!

Click the egg for info on the Easter egg contest!


Atari arcade coin-op

Atari VCS/2600

Atari 400/800

Atari 5200 Super System

Atari 7800 Pro System

an egg!

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