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Starship 1

From The Cutting Room Floor
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Title Screen

Starship 1

Developer: Atari, Inc.
Publisher: Atari, Inc.
Platform: Arcade (Atari System 16)
Released in US: July 1977
Released in EU: July 1977


DevMessageIcon.png This game has a hidden developer message.


Starship 1 is an early space shooter game from Atari and one of the earliest with hand-drawn graphics.

"HI RON!"

Starship1HiRon.png
Hold down both the Phasor and the Start buttons, then insert a coin. Immediately release the buttons and press the slow control quickly. If done correctly, the game should display for about 11 seconds "HI RON!" on the screen (though the "H" is slightly offscreen).

Ron refers to Ron Milner, the game's co-engineer. This easter egg also allows one to get 10 free credits.

I remember feeling like some sort of criminal putting the back door in my program. I knew that if it ever got out I would lose my job which I liked a lot. My boss, Larry Emmons, already had me pegged as a screw-up for various other mouthings off and shenanigans and something like stealing free games would definitely be the end even though I came up with vast numbers of great ideas. Who knows, I could maybe get tossed in jail if coin machine operators were losing real revenue. That’s why I never bragged about it till now!

[...]

I knew the program would probably be looked over or modified by an Atari programmer at some point so I carefully hid the back door in the source code. If anyone actually still has the old source code archives it would be interesting. The ascii text for putting out “HI RON” was disguised in my source as a subroutine of strangely unexecutable code labeled “hir” to look innocuous and nothing else was commented. At that time text was all mixed in with the program code. Unfortunately I also quickly forgot the magic control sequence and only got to show off a couple times.

— Ron Milner


(Source: Ed Fries)