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Radiohead hides 8-bit secret message in the remastered version of OK Computer

Radiohead hides 8-bit secret message in the remastered version of OK Computer


Easter egg inside an Easter egg

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Radiohead recently included a special Easter egg in the remastered 20th anniversary edition of their album OK Computer, but you can only uncover it with the help of a British 8-bit ZX Spectrum computer, or at least an emulator of one.

The just-released $130 edition (£100) of OK Computer, called OKNOTOK, contains three black 12-inch vinyl records, a hardcover book with more than 30 drawings, and a classic C90 cassette. Playing the cassette will grant you the piercing sounds of a ZX Spectrum firing up and beeping, a seemingly unintelligible language that can be read as words and bright images with the help of an emulator. A YouTuber managed to unearth this hidden feature from the cassette and made Radiohead’s secret message available for all to appreciate.

The message in the program says, “Inside your home computer are...Thomas Yorke, Colin Greenwood, Jonathan Greenwood, Edward O’Brien, Philip Selway, Nigel Godrich, & Stanley Donwood.” It’s dated December 1996, a few months before the release of OK Computer. There’s also an easter egg inside this Easter egg, hidden in the code that reads, “’ve found the secret message syd lives hmmmm. We should get out more.”

The ZX Spectrum computer is very near and dear to Radiohead lead guitarist and keyboardist Jonny Greenwood’s heart because he actually used to own one, as first pointed out by Gizmodo. In a 2003 interview, Greenwood said that programming music by coding allows you to “think in very pure terms about what sound is and what music is.”

Although vinyl, CD, digital, and streaming versions of the album are also available, the special $130 package is the only one with the Easter egg. OKNOTOK also contains the original remastered album tracks, including “Karma Police,” “Paranoid Android,” and “No Surprises,” and three unreleased tracks and eight B-sides.

Remastered music can often seem like little more than repurposing old songs to make money. But Easter eggs like these are a unique way for artists to appeal to their hardcore fans, especially as physical album sales continue to shrink. Then again, you can experience this Easter egg on YouTube for free, so it remains to be seen whether people will actually shell out for OKNOTOK. Still, kudos to Radiohead for releasing a brilliantly enjoyable series of vinyls that are not just for display only.