Windows is a complicated software with hundreds of thousands of code lines. Developers at Microsoft and other companies sometimes have fun placing Easter eggs inside their products to reward curious users and enthusiasts for their efforts to learn more.
Hiding secret messages inside programs and operating systems is not a new tradition. Windows 3.0, for example, displays a list of developers after you minimize all apps and type win30, then quickly press F3 and Backspace. Now we know about even earlier Easter eggs in Microsoft products. Lucas Brooks, "a newbie Windows fan," discovered a developer credits list in the first Windows version released in 1985.
Which version of @Windows is the first to include Easter eggs? Windows 3.0? Nope. What if I tell you there is an Easter egg in Windows 1.0 RTM? This is what I have recently discovered: pic.twitter.com/dbfcv4r7jj— Lucas Brooks (@mswin_bat) March 18, 2022
Windows 1.0 RTM contains an encrypted list of developers in a bitmap file (image with a smiley face). For now, the keystroke to invoke the list are unknown, so Lucas Brooks had to reverse-engineer the file and look for the encrypted data. Interestingly, the enthusiast says it was impossible to decrypt the file back in 1985 as the needed tools did not exist.
The list of Windows 1.0 developers mentions Gabe Newell, the CEO of Steam. Gabe worked at Microsoft from 1983 to 1996 and participated in creating Windows 1.0 and later releases. Unfortunately, the Easter egg found in Windows 1.0 provides no information about Half-Life 3, so enthusiasts need to keep looking elsewhere.
The Easter egg moved from the initial Windows 1.0 RTM release to subsequent releases. You can find the same list with some new names in Windows 2.11. If you are curious to check out other Easter eggs in early Windows versions, Lucas Brooks prepared a list of his findings on Pastebin.