Easter Egg

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Vielleicht gibt es hier ein Easter Egg...
Example of an Easter egg in a picture that is revealed by clicking on the hedgehog.

Easter Egg ( Engl. For " Easter Egg ") is a term for a hidden feature in the media and computer programs . Shapes are for example the gag screen of software or the secret level of a computer game.

Word origin and history

Warren Robinett , who immortalized his name in an Atari game in 1978 ( Adventure for the Atari 2600 Video Game Console) is considered the inventor of Easter eggs in computer games . However, the hiding of small information in art history has been proven since the Renaissance, for example hidden signatures, portraits of the painter or other people in secondary characters and the like. An example of this is the so-called anamorphosis , which in a painting only becomes visible from a certain viewing angle or with the help of a mirror, etc.


An Easter egg generally serves to acknowledge the author , but mostly does this in an entertaining way. Easter eggs are often stored by the programmers without the knowledge of the company management. It can be seen as the “ signet of the author” - who relinquishes his exploitation rights when working for a client and therefore usually does not appear officially - rather than a plagiarism trap .

Differentiation from the hidden function

Functions that are difficult to access ( hidden function ) are sometimes misinterpreted as Easter eggs.

In Microsoft Word, for example, you can enter the line = rand (200,2) in a new document and confirm with Enter . Then the four-page pangram “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Or in the German version the sentence “Franz is hunting in a completely neglected taxi across Bavaria” is presented. The first number stands for the number of paragraphs that are output, the second number for the number of sentences per paragraph. In the example above, 200 paragraphs are outputted with the phrase "Franz is hunting ..." twice. At first glance, this looks like a joke and an Easter egg, but the function actually has a use. Each letter of the alphabet occurs at least once in these sentences (pangram), for example to test the display of a font or to generate dummy text . As of Word 2007, this text has been replaced by the explanations for the new Office control elements.

Reservations in the context of malware

Due to the widespread use of viruses , worms , Trojans and other malicious programs ( malware ), software manufacturers are rethinking Easter eggs. Numerous companies do not want Easter eggs or similar undocumented functions in the software they use, because it is feared that software with such properties could be viewed as less trustworthy or more susceptible to possible security gaps . In older versions of Microsoft operating systems and applications, elaborate Easter eggs are sometimes hidden, but developers are now prohibited from integrating them into the software, which is not least due to Microsoft's status as a founding member of the Trusted Computing Group .



In software , these hidden functions can be activated with key combinations on the keyboard or mouse . For example, the name of the software developer and credits (acknowledgments) are shown.

Well-known examples of Easter eggs in software include a pinball machine hidden in Word 97 and a simple flight simulator in Excel 97 , with which you can fly over a fractal landscape and discover the developers' credits. An Easter egg available in the Mozilla Firefox browser is Das Buch Mozilla (accessible via about: mozilla) and a warning about robots (accessible via about: robots)

Computer games

A common feature in computer games are the secret levels , which can only be reached if, for example, well-camouflaged passages are passed through at certain points in the course of the action. These levels are documented insofar as they are mentioned in the section statistics and are required to achieve a score of 100%.

Another element that can be found in computer games are references to previous or other games (but less often also to films or famous real events), in the sense of a quotation. In the game Sacred 2 , for example, there is a green goblin hidden in a swamp - usually goblins in this game are pink - who, when spoken to, uses the same unusual sentence structure as Master Yoda from Star Wars.

Sometimes the hiding of Easter eggs is taken literally, for example in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City you jump through a certain window into a room with a large Easter egg. In the next part of the series ( Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas ) there is the message on a steel girder of a bridge: “There are no Easter Eggs up here. Go away. ” (German: “ There are no Easter eggs up here. Get out of here. ” ).

DVDs and CDs

Easter eggs are used on DVDs when short videos or special bonus material can only be accessed through invisible menu items.

Easter eggs that require physical manipulation of the medium are rather rare. For example, the packaging of the CD Songs of Faith and Devotion by Depeche Mode contains a hidden picture of singer Dave Gahan with a sex shop in the background, which you can see when you look at the tray (the mostly black part of the jewel case on which the Disc) from the anchorages and lifts out.


In feature films, Easter eggs are used in the form of allusions to other films. This can be the appearance of characters or the use of elements from other films; cameo appearances are also common. In animated films in particular, references are made to companies, products or people that actually exist. B. the respective (real) name is used slightly changed. Insider jokes such as B. the code A113 , which can hardly be discovered by the normal public and thus corresponds most closely to the original function of the Easter Eggs.

Usually Easter Eggs are so well hidden and their duration so short that they can only be consciously recognized after watching the film carefully and carefully.

A good example is the animated film Zoomania , which is teeming with Easter eggs of all kinds.

There are fan bases who systematically search new films for Easter eggs and publish them, often the same ones who also look for film errors .


Also, sites may contain Easter Eggs, as does for example in the Google -Sucheingabe " do a barrel roll " ( Do a barrel roll ) the results page a 360-degree rotation. However, websites can also be an Easter egg in their entirety, such as the fictional pet delivery company PetsOvernight.com from the computer game Grand Theft Auto III or the equally fictional airline Oceanic Airlines (oceanic-air.com) from the television series Lost .

See also

  • Hidden track , an additional track on some audio media
  • Backward messages (English backmasking )
  • Cheat , a special, undocumented key sequence for additional functions
  • Cameo , a short appearance by a well-known person in a film or television series, without a corresponding mention in the opening credits or credits
  • Trap Street : invented streets in maps as a plagiarism trap


Web links

Wiktionary: Easteregg  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Adventure for the Atari 2600 Video Game Console by Warren Robinett ( Memento from August 1, 2014 in the Internet Archive ), warrenrobinett.com (English)