31 votes
Accepted

How did we use to have these high quality 256 color images?

There are two key points to generating good looking 256-color images: Choosing a proper palette and obscuring color errors (usually by some kind of dithering). If you want to display only a single ...
20 votes
Accepted

What specific technical advance(s) allowed PCs to play "Full-screen full-motion" video?

An efficient motion video codec (such as MPEG-1, 1993) to make storage or transmission of digital video practical. Real-time motion video decoder chips such as the C-Cube CL4000 (1993), because ...
18 votes

What innovation helped CD-ROM speeds increase exponentially?

While reading a CD, the main head assembly will simply move slowly from the inside of the disk outward, but unless the disk is absolutely perfectly centered--something that usually doesn't happen--the ...
  • 32.1k
13 votes
Accepted

Could early nineties PCs access raw CD bitstream?

TL;DR; Yes and yes, but. CD-ROM Mode 2 offers all 2336 bytes of a CD-ROM block for user data. By default all CD-ROM drives can read Mode 2 disks as well Mode 2 CD-ROM have been produced, but it never ...
  • 191k
13 votes

What specific technical advance(s) allowed PCs to play "Full-screen full-motion" video?

I'm going to stick my neck out and argue, chronologically: QuickTime; Cinepak; MPEG1. QuickTime, which launched in 1991 and therefore predates Video for Windows by about a year, introduced a fairly ...
  • 33.5k
10 votes
Accepted

Old multimedia: Monochrome Macintosh / Laserdisc player

These were known as LaserStacks, and a DDG search turns up some information. Some titles were known as hypervideo databases. The biggest publisher appears to have been Voyager; various manufacturers ...
10 votes

How did we use to have these high quality 256 color images?

An under-appreciated step in making a 256-color picture look really good is adjusting the colors in the source image so that they can fit a good palette. For example, in a real photograph a sky might ...
  • 32.1k
9 votes

How did we use to have these high quality 256 color images?

The tool pnmcolormap in the Netpbm package chooses a set of colors to best represent an image. Its man page has a good description of the algorithm: A quantization method is a way to choose which ...
  • 17.4k
8 votes

How did we use to have these high quality 256 color images?

If we are talking about 256 or 16 color VGA modes then they are not 256 or 16 colors really but 2^(6+6+6) = 2^18 = 262144 color depth but can use only 256 or 16 different colors in single frame (...
  • 7,036
7 votes

Could early nineties PCs access raw CD bitstream?

I think your premise is a bit off. Compression (lossy or otherwise) makes media much more susceptible to errors, not less. If you flip one bit in an uncompressed image, the probable result is that one ...
  • 4,380
6 votes

Looking for an IBM multimedia demo from the 80s/90s about "Ulysses"

Was it Ulysses (alt), Tennyson's poem from Illuminated books and manuscripts (pub. IBM Educational Systems, 1992)?
  • 18.6k
4 votes

How did we use to have these high quality 256 color images?

The best digital artists of the day were working in 256-color art I think much of the answer is that the best digital artists of the day were working in the medium of 8-bit paletted art. These people ...
4 votes

What specific technical advance(s) allowed PCs to play "Full-screen full-motion" video?

The first real "Multimedia" experience I had was with a Sigma Designs REALMagic MPEG decoder card that was one of the first that could full MPEG decoding in hardware. It had to be connected to the ...
  • 29.9k
4 votes

Definitive list of music bands/groups that included computer programs on their analogue audio music physical media releases (LPs, singles)

Isao Tomita encoded messages in the TARBEL (actually Tarbell) cassette format on his album "The Bermuda Triangle" from 1979.
  • 11.5k
1 vote

Definitive list of music bands/groups that included computer programs on their analogue audio music physical media releases (LPs, singles)

The band Information Society did this on at least two of their albums. The album Peace and Love, Inc. contained a message by one of the band members. The album Don't Be Afraid contained a scavenger ...
  • 699
1 vote

Definitive list of music bands/groups that included computer programs on their analogue audio music physical media releases (LPs, singles)

Back in the mid-late 1980s, I saw that rock/pop band on Number 73, Saturday Morning Kids/Youth ITV show, talking about it in an interview. I can't remember the band name. However some searching ...
1 vote

What specific technical advance(s) allowed PCs to play "Full-screen full-motion" video?

Another fundamental bit of context beyond the world of PC's is that video cameras were dropping in price, so people were much more likely to be doing video stuff even away from computers so there was ...
  • 1,934
1 vote

What specific technical advance(s) allowed PCs to play "Full-screen full-motion" video?

If you look to unconventional sources, you find some surprising answers. The Demoscene has demonstrated that full-motion video is actually possible on an XT with a hard drive and a Sound Blaster. ...
  • 376

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible