Check out this entertaining history of Easter Eggs in Apple products

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Easter Eggs
Take a walk through Easter Egg history.
Photo: Pamela Carls/Flickr CC

If you’re an Apple fan of a certain age, you may well remember the way the company (or, rather, its more enterprising engineers) used to pack the code of new Apple products with hidden Easter Eggs.

A practice that has largely been absent since the early 2000s, this allowed employees to find inventive ways of getting themselves credited on software they had worked on. An entertaining recent talk by Swift coder and former Apple employee James Thompson relives its history:

Thompson’s talk was given earlier in July at a “Hacking with Swift Live 2019” conference in my home town of Bath, in the U.K. It’s a fun trip down memory lane, showcasing just how widely used Easter Eggs were.

Today, as far as I’m aware, the practice no longer exists at Apple. Thompson suggests that this was down to Steve Jobs. Jobs had three reasons for getting rid of Easter Eggs. Firstly, he thought that doing so meant engineers directing energy into something other than the product. Secondly, it ignored Apple employees who worked for the company but not working on software. Finally, in the years before LinkedIn, Jobs apparently worried that this would make it easier for companies to poach Apple employees — by identifying just who had worked on certain programs.

Thompson’s talk is a whole lot of fun, and pretty comprehensive. It also makes me nostalgic for those early Mac days, when unusual flourishes could make it into the finished product.

What’s your all-time favorite software Easter Egg? Let us know in the comments below.