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Windows 1.0’s Been Hiding A Secret For 37 Years, And Someone Finally Found It

Come for the early Microsoft Easter egg, stay for the Gabe Newell cameo

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A photograph of Bill Gates smiling while working on a laptop.
Photo: Jeff Christensen/Liaision (Getty Images)

After nearly four decades, an ancient secret buried deep in Windows 1.0 has been discovered by an intrepid digital archeologist. It’s a simple Easter egg, but one which was most likely impossible to find back in the day.

As spotted by PC Gamer, Lucas Brooks is a big fan of Microsoft’s graphical operating system, Windows. Brooks is often seen tweeting about various things he has found in older builds of Windows, including Easter eggs. And recently he discovered a never-before-seen secret in Windows 1.0 RTM (the RTM stands for “release to manufacturing”). A credits list, featuring the names of all the folks who helped create Window 1.0, can be found hidden inside a bitmap file.


It should be noted that by hiding this already-encrypted data inside a bitmap file, the devs were essentially making it impossible for anyone back in the day to ever discover the secret credits. That’s because, according to Brooks, the tools needed to extract a bitmap file from an NE (new executable file format) didn’t exist when Windows 1.0 was released. And even if someone did manage to rip out the bitmap, they wouldn’t have been able to spot the extra, encrypted data hidden in the file.


While Brooks was able to reverse engineer the secret, discovering the credits list in the process, they have yet to figure out how to actually access the Easter egg in Windows 1.0 without doing some hacking. It’s believed that there is some series of keystrokes in Windows 1.0 that will unlock the secret credits list. This is how it works in all later versions which also have hidden credits and similar secrets. But for now, nobody has been able to figure that out.

You may recognize one of the names in the newly discovered credits. Valve co-founder and president Gabe Newell is listed in the Easter egg and that’s because…he worked there. He left Microsoft in 1996 along with Mike Harrington to create Valve and start work on their first game, Half-Life. I wonder how that all worked out…