Type File virus
Creator Wintermute
Date Discovered 1998
Place of Origin Madrid, Spain
Source Language Assembly
Platform DOS
File Type(s) .com
Infection Length 1,513 bytes

Redcode is a virus by Wintermute of the 29A group. His inspiration for the payload was from the classic "Core War" game. In Core War, players attempt to take control of a virtual computer using an assembly language known as "Redcode". It appears in the second issue of 29A magazine, released in February of 1998.

When executed, Redcode becomes memory resident. The virus avoids infecting files that have already been infected. It appends itself to .com files as they are executed.

On the first of January, it executes its payload when a file is executed. It displays the text "Viral RedCode Implant" above a grid covering a large part of the screen. The words "Today's contest between Big Butt Gasso and Himmler Fewster" can be seen below. The user can avoid the destructive payload if they do not press 'Enter' when the non-destructive payload appears.

Other Facts

The source code introduces the two characters in a comment. Big Butt Gasso is described as a pig who thinks he is a sheepdog and after little success with that, receives Redcode from a friend and hopes he can make something of himself. Himmler Fewster is described as a racist who only likes AVers (antivirus company employees) and passionately hates VXers (virus coders).

The idea of Core War itself was partially inspired by the Creeper and Reaper worms. A. K. Dewdney, the inventor of Core War, seems to have regarded the story of Creeper and Reaper as an urban legend. Because it features two programs that fight for survival and attempt to overwrite each other, it is often discussed in the context of virus and artificial life programs.

The Redcode virus in action


Redcode. (broken link, not captured by the internet archive)

A. K. Dewdney. Scientific American, (1984, v.250, N 5, pp. 15-19) In the game called Core War hostile programs engage in a battle of bits

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