Questions tagged [display]

For questions regarding the display formats of retrocomputers.

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62 votes
2 answers
11k views

Why are a lot of monochrome computer monitors green?

In my perception, the most common color for monochrome computer monitors is green or white/grey, though I have seen orange monitors. Is this genuinely the case, and if so, is there a reason for it?
39 votes
8 answers
13k views

Why did computer video outputs go from digital to analog, then back to digital?

While early microcomputers used analog video outputs (often to use a television as a display), higher end machines such as the BBC Micro or Commodore 128 supported a digital RGB (or RGBI) video output....
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38 votes
6 answers
11k views

Why did early arcade games use vertical displays?

Surprisingly many early arcade games, such as Pac-Man, Galaxian and Galaga, mounted their displays vertically, in portrait rather than landscape orientation. (From the perspective of the electronics, ...
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35 votes
5 answers
5k views

Why did Super-VGA offer the 5:4 1280×1024 resolution?

Before the age of LCDs, PC displays almost always targeted 4:3 CRT displays. And indeed, VGA and most super-VGA modes had 4:3 aspect ratio resulting in square pixels - except the odd 5:4 1280×1024 ...
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33 votes
3 answers
12k views

Why do PCs boot in 720x400 resolution?

Using my 21" Trinitron OSD, I can see that the resolution at boot is 720x400. From memory, this weird resolution is extremely uncommon if ever to be seen as a choice on software that supports ...
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33 votes
8 answers
37k views

How can you connect an Amiga 500/600/1000/2000 to a modern monitor?

I have an Amiga 500 that I'd like to get up and running again, but the 1084 monitor with which I used to use it has flyback transformer issues. What options are available to hook it up to a modern ...
29 votes
8 answers
3k views

Proportional fonts on 8-bit computers

Many 8-bit computers had video systems that provided tiles, and when these were available, they were the obvious ways to display text. However, some 8-bit computers such as the ZX Spectrum and ...
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28 votes
25 answers
4k views

Which computers had redefinable character sets?

My first computer was an Exidy Sorcerer, bought in the late '70s. It featured a full keyboard including lower case, on screen text of 64 B&W characters by 30 rows, 2 MHz z-80 processor, up to 48 ...
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26 votes
5 answers
3k views

Did any Amiga 500 games or programs (apart from paint programs) use more than 32 colours?

While the Original Chip Set (OCS) and Enhanced Chip Set (ECS) Amiga computers had the 32 x 2 colour EHB (Extra Half-Brite) and 4096 colour HAM (Hold And Mofify) screen modes, where these ever used ...
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24 votes
2 answers
4k views

Blue and yellow stripes on the screen when loading from tape on ZX Spectrum

When loading a program from tape on ZX Spectrum you could see those blue and yellow stripes around the splash screen. I might be mistaken but I believe those were even sometimes used for quite ...
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24 votes
2 answers
3k views

Why did the original Apple //e have two sets of inverse video characters?

According to Apple II Technical notes Mouse #6, updated January 1989, In unenhanced Apple IIe computers, the alternate character set contained two sets of inverse uppercase characters. In the ...
23 votes
5 answers
4k views

What is the hex versus octal timeline?

When and why did hexadecimal representation become more common than octal for displaying and printing out multi-bit binary fields?
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22 votes
11 answers
5k views

Did any European computers use 10-line fonts?

Most 8-bit computers implemented hardware text mode, and most of those used 8x8 fonts. This was logical for American computers; the title safe area on NTSC is about 200 scan lines; font height 8 gets ...
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22 votes
3 answers
3k views

Glitch in the display of a Mac SE/30

I found an old Macintosh SE/30 in the basement and fired it up recently, only to find that there's some kind of problem with the built-in CRT. I don't really know how to describe it, though. Can ...
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21 votes
12 answers
6k views

640x480 color display in 1980

I'm working on an alternate history story in which the protagonists, Silicon Valley computer entrepreneurs, are trying to release a graphical workstation in 1980, with the capability of displaying ...
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21 votes
5 answers
4k views

What kind of television set would work with the Commodore 64?

I found out all my SmartTVs don't work because they are too modern for my old computer. I am a young owner of a Commodore 64, so please bear with me as this machine is a decade older than me. I do ...
20 votes
3 answers
6k views

Did arcade monitors have same pixel aspect ratio as TV sets?

It is well known that when emulating classic games on modern displays, you need to be careful not to distort the aspect ratio. Generally speaking, CRT screens were 4:3, and specific pixel aspect ...
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19 votes
8 answers
4k views

CP/M in fewer than 80 columns

The standard for business computing in the seventies and eighties was 80 columns, and CP/M was primarily for business computing, so it's unsurprising that CP/M typically ran in 80 columns. For example,...
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19 votes
1 answer
5k views

Is it possible to use an Amstrad CPC464 with a modern monitor or TV

During a recent move I lost the monitor for my Amstrad CPC464. Is it possible to adapt the output of this to work on a modern monitor or on television set?
18 votes
1 answer
2k views

How long did plasma displays persist?

I'm reading a book called The Friendly Orange Glow, about the PLATO multiuser computer system developed by the University of Illinois in the late sixties, which is fascinating at several levels as a ...
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16 votes
9 answers
2k views

Besides the VIC-20 did any other micros have fewer than 32 columns available for text mode?

On early microcomputers it was common to have 40 columns of text with the alternative usually being 32 or 64 for technical reasons as well as ambitious 80 column models that became more common as ...
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16 votes
7 answers
5k views

Was the picture area of a CRT a parallelogram (instead of a true rectangle)?

This may seem like an absurd question at first, but I've been giving it some thought and I'm genuinely curious about the design details of these devices. I was reading an answer on an unrelated Stack ...
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15 votes
6 answers
4k views

Did any computer allow overscan on a CRT monitor?

The issue doesn't arise on today's LCD screens, but on a CRT screen, because the edges are slightly curved, and you might not be able to be sure exactly how the individual screen is tweaked, it's not ...
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14 votes
2 answers
4k views

Square pixels and TV output

Another question about color computers in the days of CRT televisions! There is a consensus that pixels should be square, and so they typically are on purpose-designed monitors. However, looking at a ...
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14 votes
2 answers
1k views

What is the size of the border of the ZX Spectrum in scanlines/pixels/bytes?

The bitmap area of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum is exactly 256 x 192 pixels. Surrounding the bitmap is quite a wide border area which is generally just one colour but loading and saving from tape changes ...
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14 votes
3 answers
2k views

How do I connect a modern display, keyboard, and mouse to a Power Macintosh 6100?

I recently got a Apple Power Macintosh 6100 for free. It powers up and seems to work, so I want to try it out and see what it's like. Unfortunately, the important ports and connectors are "non-...
14 votes
2 answers
720 views

Interfacing with vintage Canon monitor

I bought a vintage Canon monitor off a friend which I'd like to interface with and use as a cool retro monitor. The problem is that I can't find anything useful about this monitor after days of ...
14 votes
1 answer
430 views

Could suitably-written Apple-I software force bytes into the display shift register, and do modern recreations emulate that?

The original Apple I didn't use RAM to hold the contents of the display, but instead used a group of six 1024-bit shift registers to hold the display contents and a seventh 1024-bit shift register to ...
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13 votes
5 answers
4k views

Why didn't early color TV sets accept RGB input?

Early PCs generated RF signal, and later Composite video or S-video, to use a TV set as monitor. Why didn't color TVs of those days expose a analog RGB interface for direct connection from VCR/PC or ...
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13 votes
7 answers
5k views

Could some 200 line displays have been pushed to 240 lines?

Reviewing Raffzahn's answer about CGA emulators for Hercules displays, and especially his initial (now corrected) note about 720x350 being PAL's natural resolution, I was wondering if 200/400 line ...
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13 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why did the Ataris have such clear displays?

Anyone that's seen an Atari 400/800 next to a VIC-20 or C64 will know what I'm talking about - the Atari display was much, much sharper. It had a similar advantage over the Apple II, and I seem to ...
12 votes
8 answers
2k views

What are principles of vector CRT display? Simplest way to drive CRTs? [closed]

I am into playing with TTL to build 1970s style minicomputers. Aside from talking to them via some serial (or parallel) I/O port to a terminal, I am wondering about display output. This here is about ...
12 votes
6 answers
6k views

Converting SCART to VGA/Jack

I have a few home-microcomputers that use SCART to output both audio & video to TV screens such as the Atari STE 1040 and the Sony MSX Hitbit 501. I don't have room to store old cathode-ray ...
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11 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why did the Amstrad CPC use a nonlinear screen memory layout?

The screen memory layout on the Commodore 64 in bitmap mode was nonlinear - which incurred a penalty in development time, code size and speed for games using it - because when designing the VIC-II, ...
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11 votes
1 answer
2k views

What kind of computer monitor do I need for a SGI O2?

The SGI O2 has a standard VGA port, but when I connect it to a CRT computer monitor, I do not get a signal. Do I need a specific kind of monitor in order to use the O2?
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10 votes
2 answers
1k views

Did the VIC-20 support raster scanline tricks like the Commodore 64?

I've been programming the C64 on/off for over 30 years (wow). However, I have a few VIC-20's I want to program. I never had a VIC-20 as a kid so I haven't had much exposure to them. Am I correct in ...
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10 votes
1 answer
1k views

"Holographic"/3D arcade games

This is vague, but I remember seeing several different arcade machines, probably in the early 90s, with various sorts of "holographic" 3D displays. By that I mean that they produced depth perception ...
9 votes
2 answers
579 views

First computer to have interactive text on a CRT?

What was the first computer to have interactive text on a CRT ? That the text on screen responded to key-presses without significant delay . I remember seeing some very early radar-installation CRT'...
9 votes
1 answer
2k views

When did MS Windows get Dual Monitor support?

I remember one of the features I admired on the Macintosh in the late 80s was support for multiple displays. First time I saw this was on an SE/30, using the internal display along with a big external ...
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9 votes
2 answers
859 views

Spectrum clones 512x192 mode usable text resolution

The original ZX Spectrum has a resolution of 256x192, for 32x24 text. Some later clones add a 512x192 mode. The most obvious thing to do with that is try to display 64x24 text. According to https://en....
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9 votes
1 answer
889 views

What kind of 256 color palette did the Enterprise 64/128 have?

The Enterprise 64 or 128 Home Computer apparently had a palette of 256 colors. However, that is pretty unusual and doesn't fit evenly into the typical 3 channels for RGB. Wikipedia doesn't provide any ...
8 votes
5 answers
2k views

Why did raster displays require semiconductor memory

This source states that introduction of raster graphics display began in mid-1970s only after affordable semiconductor memory had become available on the market. Would it be at all possible to make a ...
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8 votes
4 answers
6k views

Set screen resolution in DOS-only PC

I replaced a failed CRT display with a LCD panel with a VGA controller board. There is no problem with the display when the PC boots up. However, if I switch the display off then I get an 'Out of ...
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8 votes
1 answer
1k views

Using Apple II with modern monitor displays snowflake

I recently picked up a (seems like) fully functional Apple IIc on eBay to play around with. I do have a modern TV that has RCA input port that the Apple IIc supports. However, when I plug in the Apple ...
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7 votes
4 answers
2k views

Choosing a monochrome color at the monitor?

A monochrome monitor displays only one foreground color and one background color. Usually the monitor was manufactured to produce only one color, which was cheaper (both CRT and electronics) than a ...
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7 votes
2 answers
762 views

What was the title safe area on PAL TV sets?

Computers that used TV sets for display, needed to worry about the title safe area. By consensus, on NTSC sets, it was 200 scan lines, or 192 if you wanted to play it really safe. What was the ...
  • 49.8k
7 votes
2 answers
676 views

First flat-panel display technology capable of 640x480

What was the first display technology capable of creating a flat-panel display with 640x480 resolution? (And reasonable size, say 12" to 14".) As far as I can see, three flat-panel display ...
  • 49.8k
7 votes
3 answers
2k views

Atari 800XL, black screen on power on - how to diagnose the problem?

I've got an atari 800 XL that is broken - when I power on, there's no reaction. It seems there is at least something sent to display, as TV detects a signal, and turns full black. The chips are ...
6 votes
3 answers
2k views

LCD Displays with the Intel 8080

A colleague of mine mentioned that in college he wrote a slot machine program on an Intel 8080 using an LCD display. What kind of display communication protocol existed on the Intel 8080? How was ...
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6 votes
3 answers
502 views

Could monochrome systems produce better output for monitors than TV sets?

Many classic computers could optionally use a TV set as the display. At least in the early (pre-SCART) days, the TV would typically only have RF input, but if you were using a monitor, you could get a ...
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