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TUCoPS :: Cyber Culture :: area51.txt

The CIA censors an "Easter Egg" from the Apple Newton! Here's how to get it back too!

There's an easter egg in the 2.0 Newton (MessagePad 120) which was
"censored" by, yes, the CIA.

Back in '94, one of the Newton software types make a trek to the (very)
small town of Rachel, Nevada, which is located at the edge of a secret
government airbase. The base, called "Area 51," is thought by
UFO-enthusiasts to be filled with alien technology which the government is
in the process of reverse engineering. Meanwhile, the government denies the
very existence of the base, in spite of widespread media coverage ("Larry
King Live from Area 51", etc.).

We figured it'd be funny to put a reference to Area 51 in the Newton --
especially given the substantial overlap between conspiracy buffs and
computer nerds. So, in the "Time Zones" application, contains a world map,
we put an entry for Area 51 in its correct location. Later, we added a
twist -- if the user picks Area 51 from the map, the icons in the datebook
application take on an alien theme. Normally, meetings are represented by
an icon of two people face-to-face, events are represented by a flag, etc.,
etc. But when Area 51 has been chosen, the icon for a meeting is a person
facing an alien, the icon for an event is a flying saucer, a to-do task is
represented by a robot, an so on.

Okay, cute enough. Now cut to August 1995, when the 2.0 ROM has been
declared final, seed units have been in customers' hands for a little
while, and the release is just about ready to go. One of the seed units, it
turns out, was sent to a cryptographer working for the CIA. When he found
that Area 51 was listed at the correct latitude/longitude, he complained to
Apple, demanding the removal of the easter egg and threatening to have his
superiors take the issue to Spindler if necessary. In the end, Newton
management caved in to the demand, and decided to pull the joke out of the

But the ROM was already done -- so the feature was hidden by a software
patch ("System Update") -- but this part of the patch can itself be
removed, and "Area 51" returned to its rightful glory. Here's how to get
the easter egg back:

1) Open the Extras drawer.
2) Switch the folder of the Extras drawer to "Storage".
3) Tap on the icon "Time Zones" and press the "Delete" button.
   Warning -- any cities you've added to your Newton will be lost.
4) Switch the folder of the extras drawer back to "Unfiled icons."
5) Tap on "Time Zones."

You'll find that Area 51 is on the map -- just tap near Las Vegas and
choose Area 51 from the popup. Now look at the icons in Dates. (To purge
the aliens from your PDA, open the back and press reset).

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