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July 15, 2017

Radiohead box set hides computer app that runs on 1980s British hardware

by John_A

Why it matters to you

Radiohead have long been known for hiding cool Easter eggs for fans to discover, and this hidden computer program may be their coolest trick yet.

The latest special-edition Radiohead box set hides a computer app that only runs on a specific brand of British-made computer, fans have discovered.

The app was uncovered on the last two minutes of an audio cassette that was included in the band’s special 20th anniversary box set for their seminal OK Computer album. The box set, which we previewed when it was first announced in May, is called OKNOTOK, and includes three vinyl LPs, a picture book, a copy of frontman Thom York’s 104-page notebook from the making of the album, and the aforementioned audio cassette — which was originally describes as only containing demos from the recording session.

It’s not surprising that Radiohead fans, know for their nerdy tenacity, quickly realized that the last two minutes of the cassette, which showcased a series of odd high-end frequencies, was more than meets the ear. Users on Reddit identified the frequencies as the sound of the famed 1980s ZX Spectrum computer, a piece of British hardware with a cult following.

After running the sounds through an emulator of the vintage British computer, fans discovered scrolling text that reads, “Inside your home computer are … Thomas Yorke, Colin Greenwood, Jonathan Greenwood, Edward O’Brien, Philip Selway, Nigel Godrich & Stanley Donwood. 19th December 1996.”

The software then scrolls to another page, which slowly fills with a series of interesting colored letters while a mass of bleeps and bloops plays in the background.

A cool computer-based Easter egg isn’t totally surprising from the cult-beloved British band. Aside from leading a massive two-decade audio revolution, Radiohead and its members have long been leaders in various pairings of digital media and audio, with the band releasing an iOS app called Polyfauna alongside their 2013 album King of Limbs, and Yorke being among the first major artists to release his solo album straight to BitTorrent, among other exploits.

Those interested in picking up one of the band’s special 20th anniversary OK Computer box sets can still do so on the project’s website, with the full cassette tape-including version running fans a cool $130. The band’s latest album, A Moon Shaped Pool, came out in May.

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