The AMIBIOS Birthday Mystery

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Is it true, or just another urban legend? Could it have been the work of a rogue employee, someone who wanted to secretly flirt with immortality in a most peculiar way? Or perhaps this could be considered as evidence of alien contact? In fact, did the event in question ever really happen at all? If so, do you have any experiences of your own to add to the already tall tale?

We are speaking about something that over the years has taken on a little bit of a life of its own: the mystery of the AMIBIOS Birthday Bug, sometimes referred to as a “trojan” or a “virus”, although technically these terms would be incorrect in describing it.

Curious? Then read on to hear a little bit more about this mystery, and why it remains just so, even to this day!

Over the years, word has floated around the computer industry that some sort of corruption or errant code present in AMIBIOS in the 1993 – 1994 time frame would force computers to play the “Happy Birthday” song through the computer speaker on boot up. Extant reports generally indicate that this behavior could be interrupted and normal boot operation would resume by hitting one or more keys on the keyboard. Notably, one key component of this legend is that it would happen only once a year on the same date of November 13, which points to some hidden significance.

Apparently, this mystery still holds some sway over our imaginations as a quick search on Google or Bing reveals that several computing blogs still make mention of this, even today – over a decade after this issue was discovered.

In the early to mid 1990s, the on-board speaker was not a speaker. It was piezo electric buzzer. It was capable of limited tones and was not controlled by the sound card (if the system even had one). After some research, we concluded it was malware, not a BIOS hack. The system played Happy Birthday via the speakers through the sound card. At the time, sound cards (or multi-media PCs) were just taking off.

So now we shine the spotlight of this mystery towards you, dear reader – what do you have to say about the so-called “AMIBIOS Birthday Mystery”? What do you know about this, or have experienced personally?

Let us know on social media, or through the Contact Us form on our website – we are looking forward to your comments!