The hidden message of Radiohead in an exclusive cassette

In the collector’s edition of a legendary album released in 2017 (OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017), Radiohead placed a ZX Spectrum program on a cassette offered exclusively with this variant.

Instead of repeating all the previous articles each time, I’ll refer you to the dedicated page, which explains what I do with vinyl records and lists all the pages containing programs, explanations, etc.


Well, I have to be honest: I didn’t buy it. It was expensive in 2017, and it’s even more expensive in 2022 (quickly reaching over €120), and a reader sent me a photo of the cassette and a digital version. Because yes, the band had the good idea of providing a digital version of the audio cassette with the collector’s edition. It’s quite logical: we can assume that a significant portion of buyers no longer had cassette players, and that – as with vinyl records – the set was bought for the object.

The cassette (thanks Pomme Granny)

Now, onto the program. With a digital copy without compression, I expected the program I usually use (the TZXWAV tool) to convert directly. But it didn’t. After a few tries, I came across two posts (one on Medium, one on Reddit) that went through quite a few treatments before the program started. In fact, first of all, the sound level is far too low in the original file. After many attempts (I have about thirty audio files), I found the solution: good amplification in Audacity, followed by a low-pass filter at 3,800 Hz/48 dB applied twice. And with these treatments, my script managed to extract the program. So, even though the fact that there is a program on the cassette is explicit, it’s not easy to run it. It’s worth noting, finally, that my method produces a compact file (it’s less than 1 kb) whereas opening the audio in an emulator before exporting brings a heavier file (77 kb for the one on Medium).

The first Easter egg doesn’t even require running the program: in the obtained source code, you can read've found the secret message syd lives.

For the program, you need to launch it (with R), it then displays a message, and then you need to press any key to start the animation. The text and colors are random from what I understand.

It needs to be launched manually

Opening text

The animation (at the end)