radiohead code ok computer

Screengrab via OooSLAJEREKooO/YouTube

Radiohead hides obscure computer program in ‘OK Computer’ reissue

A cassette tape yields a message from the past.


Audra Schroeder


Posted on Jul 13, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 11:57 pm CDT

Radiohead has gone all out with the 20th anniversary special edition of OK Computer. 

A curious fan on r/radiohead noticed the last track on the cassette packaged in the OKNOTOK special edition “appears to be a ZX Spectrum compatible program or message. The Spectrum loads programs from audio cassette tapes, which explains why Radiohead chose the cassette format for this part of the release. Does anyone have a ZX Spectrum and cassette tape deck to try it out?”

Of course someone did. Soon we had a decoded message, dated December 1996 and featuring the band members’ names plus the words “With all our love,” as well as a colorful 8-bit-code sound collage. As the creator of this video states, “inside the code there’s a hidden, black text on a black background: “congratulations….you’ve found the secret message syd lives hmmmm. We should get out more.”

Radiohead also just released the official unboxing video for this Russian nesting doll of an album, with recurring character Chieftan Mews.

OK Computer was released in 1997, but it’s not clear if this message was created in 1996 or earlier. The ZX Spectrum, a personal 8-bit computer, was released in the U.K. in 1982, but in a 2003 interview guitarist Jonny Greenwood revealed he had a ZX Spectrum as a kid.

H/T Pitchfork

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*First Published: Jul 13, 2017, 4:42 pm CDT