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Toyota Recalling Prius to Remove 'Easter Eggs'
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TOKYO, Japan - Toyota is recalling 160,000 of its popular Prius hybrid cars because of what the company initially called "an electrical problem that could cause the engine to stall." But in a subsequent announcement, Toyota president Fujio Cho was more forthcoming, saying, "It is our duty to admit to our consumers that non-malicious, but potentially inconvenient, computer code was introduced into the Prius sub-system. These so-called Easter Eggs are not truly dangerous, but we do not wish to dishonor our loyal customers by leaving them in place. This recall will correct the offending code." The recall work can be performed by any Toyota dealer free of charge.

"C'mon, have a sense of humor!"
-- Anonymous Computer Programmer
'Easter Eggs' are bits of computer code embedded in many software packages, often for the amusement of the programmer. Usually they are triggered by an intricate series of key presses or mouse clicks and result in messages, graphics, or even small games being revealed. "They could be considered wasteful, I guess," said one programmer that asked to remain anonymous, "But c'mon, have a sense of humor. I think the Prius one rocks!" According to a developers' Internet forum where news of the Prius code first broke, the Prius' horn can be made to play the first fifteen notes of Kimi Ga Yo (Japan's national anthem) by touching corners of the vehicle's touch screen in the correct sequence. When asked what the sequence was, the webmaster responded, "Figure it out! Ha!"

The company says no accidents or injuries have been reported. Toyota suspects a computer programmer in the Tokyo engineering department inserted the code during pre-production staging in late 2002. Experts consider the problem a safety issue because drivers may accidentally trigger the code, setting off the horn and causing confusion to themselves and other motorists.

The recall includes 75,000 Prius cars sold in the US. The models affected were manufactured between August 2003 and February 2005. Toyota started selling the Prius in 1997 and leads the hybrid market.
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