15 votes

Previously-unknown "easter egg" discovered in the Fairchild Channel F game "Spitfire" from 1977, could be the earliest one ever added

7 comments

  1. [6]
    Deimos Link
    There's a bit more discussion about this in this thread on Twitter, including that someone had already been trying unsuccessfully to locate the Michael Glass who wrote this game. I'm really...

    There's a bit more discussion about this in this thread on Twitter, including that someone had already been trying unsuccessfully to locate the Michael Glass who wrote this game.

    I'm really interested in the code that you have to enter to make this happen. It's so long for no obvious reason, and I feel like the developer must have had some way of remembering it. I can't see any pattern to it at all though, here it is broken up into a few lines:

    343242124133
    231432142314
    322132342334
    111223324443
    

    You can also see it visually in the bottom right corner of this image of the rom dump, with the pixels being in 4, 3, 2, 1 order from left to right.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      jgb Link Parent
      I'm inclined towards the opinion that he just spammed his keyboard to produce the passphrase. It'd be awesome if someone uncovered a hidden meaning though.

      I'm inclined towards the opinion that he just spammed his keyboard to produce the passphrase. It'd be awesome if someone uncovered a hidden meaning though.

      4 votes
      1. Deimos (edited ) Link Parent
        It's definitely possible that it's just random, but these are my thoughts about why I feel like some kind of pattern makes sense: The code is so long that nobody would ever happen across it...

        It's definitely possible that it's just random, but these are my thoughts about why I feel like some kind of pattern makes sense:

        • The code is so long that nobody would ever happen across it accidentally.
        • Because of that, the only people that would be able to know about it would be the developer himself or someone that dumped the ROM data and found it, like happened here.
        • If it was just something for people with access to the raw data to find, there's no need to have a code at all. You can see the message in the data (see the image I linked above)—he could have just put space between each letter and it would have been easily readable in the data without needing any way to trigger it in the game.
        • Despite that, he specifically included code that checks for that sequence of inputs and shows the message. He wanted there to be a way to be able to show it in the game itself.
        • That implies to me that he wanted to be able to show this off personally, since he would almost certainly be the only one that knows the code. It would be a fun trick to be able to do, like, "Oh, you have Spitfire? Let me show you something."
        • That trick isn't nearly as good if you have to carry and consult a piece of paper with the random 48-number code on it, and you wouldn't want to be locked out of it forever if you lost the code. I think he'd want to be able to know it from memory.

        So it seems likely to me that there's a pattern or some other method to be able to produce the whole sequence. But I really have no idea, and one of the weirdest parts is that it's 48 long. If the goal was just to make sure nobody would guess it, that's still way, way, way longer than necessary. It makes me think there's a particular reason it's so long, related to the way of building the sequence or maybe a hidden message.

        8 votes
    2. [2]
      Zarasophos Link Parent
      This is quite a bad thing to spring on someone just before they wanted to go to bed... Okay, cursory internet search brought no almighty algorithm(tm) capable of solving the thing. Wolfram Alpha...

      This is quite a bad thing to spring on someone just before they wanted to go to bed...

      Okay, cursory internet search brought no almighty algorithm(tm) capable of solving the thing. Wolfram Alpha didn't spit out anything either, so I got into it a bit by hand. What I find interesting is that there are three passages with obvious patterns, but they are broken up by parts that seem to have none:

      343242 (1. Pattern: X4X)

      124133231

      432142314322 (2. Pattern: Variations on 4321)

      1323423341

      112233 (3. Pattern: Self-explanatory)

      24443

      And even these three patterns seem a bit of a stretch, to be honest. What was the input method on which this was programmed / used? Maybe it was some kind of graphical pattern when done on a gamepad?

      3 votes
      1. Deimos Link Parent
        Haha sorry, it's been bugging me all day too, but at least I read about it in the morning. I thought about the idea of it making some kind of pattern too, but it's just 4 buttons in order on the...

        This is quite a bad thing to spring on someone just before they wanted to go to bed...

        Haha sorry, it's been bugging me all day too, but at least I read about it in the morning.

        I thought about the idea of it making some kind of pattern too, but it's just 4 buttons in order on the console itself, so there shouldn't be anything from that perspective.

        3 votes
    3. Mitijea Link Parent
      Do you think it might be a musical pattern? Similar to playing the piano, but instead using the four switches.

      Do you think it might be a musical pattern? Similar to playing the piano, but instead using the four switches.

      3 votes
  2. Deimos (edited ) Link
    When I was writing my last comment, I went back to the linked thread and noticed this new reply from 6 hours ago (shortly after I posted this topic): And he's posted a couple of photos of his...

    When I was writing my last comment, I went back to the linked thread and noticed this new reply from 6 hours ago (shortly after I posted this topic):

    Hello all…

    My name is Michael K Glass… Jr.

    Someone just notified me on reddit this morning about this post, and I am VERY excited about the thought that this might be the earliest easter egg ever found!

    Michael was my father, and while I cannot confirm that this is in fact his easter egg, I can confirm (without current proof, unfortunately… working on that) that he developed games back in the 70’s and 80’s for Atari and other systems.

    I grew up in the custody of my Aunt and Uncle, so I don’t know a whole lot about his work… did he work for a company, or freelance? How long did he program games? Not sure. But I did enjoy visiting him from time to time, and I remember playing a lot of silly, crazy games that I am sure never even made it to market!

    Unfortunately, my Dad passed away in 2005, so we’ll never really know for sure. But I’m asking his sister (the Aunt I grew up with) if she has any information. She is heavy into geneology, so if anyone has records, she does! If I find anything out I’ll share it here.

    Thank you so much for finding this, and sharing. My sister just passed away last weekend, so it’s nice to find some uplifting news about our father.

    I just created this account to post, and it’s my first time here. If you have any questions, I will try to answer them the best I can, but please be aware that I didn’t know him too well. I do know that he was a brilliant programmer, loved to play pool (as do I – I’m a pool instructor now), and loved his recreational… herbs :). And I’m sure he would be thrilled to know that someone finally found his easter egg!

    And he's posted a couple of photos of his father now as well. He posted the same thing in /r/retrogaming on reddit from a 9-year-old account named "mkglass", so it seems pretty believable.

    5 votes