Steve Jobs’ Easter egg ban is catching on

Easter Eggs - Wikimedia CommonsIt seems that Apple’s Steve Jobs’ ban on programmers installing “Easter eggs” in code is becoming an industry wide move.

In 1987 Apple Macintosh included photographs and names of the designers squirreled away as Easter eggs. But Jobs forbade them when he returned to Apple in 1997.

According to the BBC ,Warren Robinett created the first bit of code to be called an Easter egg in his 1979 Adventure for the Atari 2600 was the first action-adventure video game. Atari did not name its programmers so he coded it into a secret room which was hard to find.

Microsoft had them until 2002 when Microsoft’s principal software design engineer Larry Osterman wrote on his blog in 2005 that “nowadays, adding an Easter egg to a Microsoft OS is immediate grounds for termination, so it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever see another.”

Dr Diomidis Spinellis, a Greek computer science academic and author of The Elements of Computing Style told the BBC that now the smaller companies are following suit and Easter Eggs are being purged from programming history.

“As programming becomes more corporate, more official, one cannot appear to have code that is not officially sanctioned,” he says.

Part of the problem is that Easter eggs have not undergone the same levels of scrutiny of the rest of the code, he says, and there may be vulnerabilities attached to them.

While Easter Eggs have been removed from code, they have been replaced with a trend of hiding them in web pages. But it really is not the same thing.