Thursday, April 26, 2012

Easter Eggs Revisited

Well, it’s a bit past Easter, but it is time to revisit the topic of the so-called Easter Eggs that have been hidden in Excel. As was discussed in this blog back in 2010, Virtual Easter Eggs are hidden games or messages that have been built into various software by crafty developers who have a sense of humor and enjoy building in a bit of intrigue. In the case of Excel, those “In-the-know” felt smug knowing how to reach the cryptic content.

Where did the term “Easter Eggs” come from?
According to available history, the term was coined in the late 1970s at Atari by the renowned computer game designer, Warren Robinett. Since designers were not given credit for the games they created, Robinett included a hidden screen which said “Created by Warren Robinett”.

For those of us who remember using Excel 97, there was a particularly fine Easter Egg lurking within. This Excel version had a comparatively ambitious Flight Simulator hidden within the application. Using a rather simple combination of keyboard commands brought you to this remarkable (for the time) simulator.

Although more difficult to access, Excel 2000 included a Car Racing Action Easter Egg which resembled Spy Hunter (you can still find a version of this game online).

Excel 2003 included an Office Quiz featuring the Crabby Office Lady. If you still have this version and you are connected to the internet, you can access this egg by typing in “Tortured Soul” in the search box.

Although rumors to the contrary still persist, I know of no hidden gems in Excel 2007 or Excel 2010. The general consensus is that Easter Eggs have been eliminated from Excel due to potential security concerns and the desire by management to use all of the resources for “worthwhile” functions. If, however, you know of any eggs in these versions, please write to me at I will send a One-Ounce Copper Lakota Bullion Coin to the first two verifiable replies.

Although it is not an Easter Egg, Excel possesses an Undocumented "DATEDIF" function, which calculates the difference in whole days, months or years between two dates. It can be quite useful, and it is curious that Microsoft doesn’t include it in its general information.  Even though it has been around since Version 5 and is still present in Excel 2007 and 2010, it was only documented in Excel 2000.

In any regard, Happy Hunting! If you know of any eggs in Excel 2007 or 2010, send me an email and Win a Prize!

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