YouTuber discovers secret computer program hidden on vinyl record

In news that will likely have us checking out our music collections, a YouTuber found a computer program that was hidden in the groove of a Christian rock record.

If there’s one thing music fans love, it’s getting more for their money. Maybe their favorite band is bringing in a special guest? Maybe a CD has a hidden track at the end (or the beginning)? Or maybe a vinyl record has a wacky message in it?

Well, while the latter is known as a great way to hide simple site text on vinyl records, many artists have tried to push the boundaries of information hiding in their albums.

In fact, in 1992, the synthpop group Information Society released a record titled Peace and Love, Inc. His latest track, “300bps N, 8, 1 (Terminal Mode or Ascii Download)”, was actually a collection of modem tones which, when decoded, tell the bizarre story of the band allegedly held hostage by the Brazilian government.

Interesting, isn’t it? Well, it turns out we can do better than that, with a YouTuber spotlighting a Christian rock record that actually hides a Commodore 64 program in its end-of-run groove.

Discover the images of the program hidden on the Prodigal folder:

Taking on his channel this weekend, Robin Harbron – who runs Show and tell 8-bit – recounted how he heard about Christian rock band Prodigal allegedly inserting a hidden program into their 1984 record, Electric eye.

“At Electric eye, we put a “stop-groove” at the end of side 2 that would “grab” the vinyl record and not allow it to eject onto an automatic turntable, ”explained the late keyboardist Loyd Boldman in 2009.

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“If you picked up the needle and put it back on the other side of the stop groove, you would hear a bunch of computer code that could be deciphered by a Commodore 64, the most popular computer of the day.

“If you were using a cassette player, the Commodore would show you the lyrics and graphics and some facts about the album. To my knowledge, this is the first and only time that something like this has been done. “

While this story sounded incredibly exciting, some online research saw it fail, so after checking out Discogs, Harbron ended up with a copy of the album, with an end-of-run groove engraving that read ” C-64 “.

After making some slight modifications to his player, Harbron was able to convince his needle to play the outer groove of the record, discovering a sound similar to that of a dial-up modem.

However, this sound was an audio representation of data which, when transferred to an audio cassette, served as a program that could be loaded into a Commodore 64 system.

The data was actually a nine-line BASIC program, and after some careful modification and manipulation with now-obsolete technology, he managed to uncover a few hidden messages that had gone unseen for many years.

A hidden message for the Commodore 64 hidden with
The hidden program. Was it worth it?

So what were the messages? How to get to a secret treasure? Instructions on how to get a second record player after ruining your needle upon finding this message?

No, the end result was a pair of quotes from Albert Einstein and Jesus. Not really worth all the hassle, really, but still something of a sight to see.

While Prodigal weren’t the only group to do such a thing (in fact, Radiohead gave fans a schedule for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum in 2017), you might have witnessed a similar experience over the last few years. year without even knowing it.

When Black mirror released their video game-themed adventure film “Bandersnatch” last year, one of the possible endings is replacing audio with computer code.

Once loaded into a ZX Spectrum, fans are given a QR code that leads to a fictional company website from that episode, with access to a video game designed for the occasion.

It just goes to show that you never know what’s in your record collection.

Discover Radiohead’s hidden message:

Gordon K. Morehouse