95 votes
Accepted

How was it back then in 1984, when the Apple II had color, and the new Macintosh didn't?

I was working in software development at the time, and this wasn't seen as a problem. Colour monitors were expensive and not usually high-quality. In PC-compatibles, the Colour Graphics Adapter (...
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  • 7,814
68 votes

What causes that "organic fade to black" effect in classic video games?

@user253751 and @WimC are correct, this fade is achieved by drawing a semi-transparent rectangle over the screen, but using a transparency mode where the rectangle's color is subtracted from the color ...
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  • 771
68 votes

Why did old IBM-PC-compatible computers only have 16 colors available?

The original IBM Color Graphics Adapter (CGA) for the first IBM PC introduced the "80x25 at 16 colors" text display mode for use with output to color monitors like the IBM 5153 (as opposed ...
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  • 4,563
63 votes

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

When colour television broadcasts began (1960s, in the UK; perhaps a little earlier in North America?) there weren't any local devices that customers might want to use. Broadcast TV was the only ...
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  • 1,388
60 votes
Accepted

Why does 8 bit truecolor use only 2 bits for blue?

Because the human eye is less sensitive to blue colour. It's also more senstitive to green than red, so depending on the number of bits available modulo 3 : 0 : The same number of bits is used for ...
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  • 1,747
43 votes

How was it back then in 1984, when the Apple II had color, and the new Macintosh didn't?

The Mac was designed from the start to be a GUI-based machine so clear, high-resolution graphics were a requirement. At the same time available memory was extremely limited due to cost considerations....
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  • 8,930
33 votes

How was it back then in 1984, when the Apple II had color, and the new Macintosh didn't?

I imagine it being a huge downgrade for some, not to have color on the Macintosh. Macintosh games were black and white in the beginning, while Apple II had color. For back then the whole assumption ...
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  • 174k
32 votes
Accepted

Square pixels and TV output

CRT TVs are analog devices, there is no "pixel", but the size of the spot limits the resolution of the image, as the size of silver nitrate crystals limits the resolution of photo films. Several ...
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  • 1,446
29 votes
Accepted

Why BGR color order

The ordering for the color values stems from a desire to store color palettes in memory in a way that is easily transferable to the VGA RAMDAC used in IBM (and compatible) VGA video cards. The ...
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29 votes

Limiting factor on early color palettes

What you're missing is that early computers didn't generate their video signals the way that modern computers do. You're probably picturing a C64 working in much the same way that a VGA adapter does: ...
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  • 8,413
26 votes

Why did old IBM-PC-compatible computers only have 16 colors available?

How were the colors selected kind of depends on why there are only 16 of them. In short, a CGA monitor takes four bit RGBI color input which means 16 colors. Each RGB color bit turns an electron gun ...
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  • 17.9k
22 votes
Accepted

Limiting factor on early color palettes

What's the reason for the limited palette size? Intuitively it would seem straightforward to e.g. have a palette of 65536 colors; it would just be a matter of having a few 16-bit registers in the ...
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21 votes

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

Early colour TVs predated VCRs and home computers by many years. Even if it did not cost much, adding an RGB input would still be a cost for something that no one would use. However, it would have ...
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  • 1,812
20 votes
Accepted

Why not one pixel per color clock?

I think you're conflating a few issues: being in-phase with the colour subcarrier; being sampled at a rate less than or equal to the colour subcarrier; and being sampled at an integer division of the ...
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  • 32.5k
20 votes

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

Many TV designs up into the 1970s were so called live chassis designs, which used one leg of the mains input as a reference ground. This saved materials and weight - given some early color TVs used ...
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19 votes
Accepted

With a 15 kHz video signal (240p or 480i), does VGA have any real-world advantage over S-Video?

S-Video relies on colour transformation from RGB to YUV, and then takes the U and V and modulates them using a colour subcarrier. The TV has to undo all these steps in order to get the original RGB ...
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18 votes

Why does the C64 have the following palette?

The email from Bob Yannes which you linked to gives the answer: I'm afraid that not nearly as much effort went into the color selection as you think. Since we had total control over hue, saturation ...
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  • 96.6k
18 votes

Why does 8 bit truecolor use only 2 bits for blue?

What is the reason only 2 bits are used for blue as opposed to red or green? Does it have to do with human perception of color or was it just an arbitrary decision? It's a combination of being ...
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  • 174k
18 votes

What causes that "organic fade to black" effect in classic video games?

This effect happens when the luminosity curve of the image is adjusted like so: This is called gamma correction and is a fairly common feature of graphics processing software and GPUs. My research ...
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  • 14k
16 votes
Accepted

My Compaq Presario CDS 633 outputs color in Windows 3.1 but not in DOS. How can I get color in DOS?

My guess is that your VGA monitor is reporting itself as a mono monitor to the VGA card. This may be caused by the monitor being too modern for your Compaq: The VGA card expects the monitor to report ...
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14 votes
Accepted

Ideal resolution for color computer on NTSC

The pixel clock doesn't have to be the same as the color clock. In fact, it's usually higher. Remember that in a composite video signal, the chrominance information (whose resolution depends upon the ...
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14 votes

How was it back then in 1984, when the Apple II had color, and the new Macintosh didn't?

I believe the assumptions of the question are wrong. We did not buy the Mac to play games, it was more or less strictly a business machine. Main usage in the beginning around me was creation of ...
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14 votes

Ideal resolution for color computer on PAL/SECAM

In the early 80s, cost of RAM for the framebuffer was the dominant factor, closely followed by RAM bandwidth. The difference in resolution between NTSC and PAL systems is minimal in comparison to ...
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  • 2,072
13 votes

Why not one pixel per color clock?

The pixel clock has to be fast enough to generate the number of pixels you want to display horizontally within the 56 microsecond scan line interval. At 3.58MHz, you only get about 200 pixels. This ...
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  • 12.4k
13 votes

How was it back then in 1984, when the Apple II had color, and the new Macintosh didn't?

I personally agree with all of the answers that say something like “High quality bitmapped monochrome displays beat low quality PC color/character graphics.” E.g. for things like preparing documents ...
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13 votes

What causes that "organic fade to black" effect in classic video games?

There can't be a simple answer, as there are many ways to reach that effect depending on console/hardware used. Using some 'overlay' needs incredible computing power and is usually tied to rather ...
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  • 174k
13 votes

Why did old IBM-PC-compatible computers only have 16 colors available?

Assuming PC and CGA/EGA/VGA graphics (based on your example image) As mentioned in the other answer, colors require memory which was not cheap back then. Also more memory for rendered VRAM means you ...
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  • 6,636
12 votes

How was it back then in 1984, when the Apple II had color, and the new Macintosh didn't?

As for why did the Apple II have color and the new Macintosh didn't? Because color wasn't as important as resolution: "Steve Jobs asserted last January [1985] that no color Mac would surface for a ...
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11 votes

Limiting factor on early color palettes

First, the Commodore 64 could do better than 320x200 in monochrome. Without any special tricks, it could display two colors per 8x8 cell at that resolution. One reason of the limited color palette ...
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  • 8,031
11 votes
Accepted

Can the BBC be programmed to a half-size mode 1 screen mode with 16 colours instead of 4?

With all these 'or' in between and jumping between various points, requirements and conclusions, it's a bit unclear what your're looking for. If this is about most colour with least memory, then the (...
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