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Even More Tales of CGA Colors

An Accurate IBM 5153 Palette and Composite Color Consequences

A lot has been written about CGA graphics over the years; while most people seem to immediately have in mind the default pallete of cyan, magenta, white, and black, the card could do a lot more, especially if you had a composite monitor. I've added several thoughts to the mix over the past few years including my preferences for better color choices that games could have easily made. Now, here's some more on CGA colors! Regardless of whether or not a game used CGA well, what would have been seen back in the day depended on a number of factors including whether or not a true IBM CGA card was used (versus, say, a third party CGA card or a later standard such as EGA or VGA emulating a CGA graphics mode) and the particular model of monitor. Introduced in 1983, the IBM 5153 monitor is one such configuration that would provide a subtle difference compared to what is normally seen today with emulators. VileR of int10h.org has written an excellent analysis of the actual 16 colors an IBM 5153 would display and why; I highly recommend checking out his article The IBM 5153's True CGA Palette and Color Output...


The March Miscellaneous Mischief

Code, Books, and Squirrels

Welcome to March 2022! I don't have a particularly substantial update or review this month, but thought I would point a few things out. First is several PixelatedArcade code updates have been pushed live; some changes you won't notice as it's mostly backend administrative stuff, but I did finally enable sorting on game lists! It's a pretty basic feature and embarrassing it took this long to get in place. I've actually had the code in place for a while but not enabled due to some really poor performance; I finally resolved the performance issues so it's available now...


Do Not Attempt To Adjust The Picture

Actually, DO Adjust It For These Games

Color monitors are ubiquitous now, but that wasn't so in the early days of computing. On early computer systems and game consoles where support for color displays was even an option, color was always achieved with various trade offs (usually as a result of limited amounts of RAM in order to keep prices low). Some computers simply limited the number of colors available at once; the Amstrad CPC and IBM PC with CGA let programmers set any pixel to any color, but no more than four colors at a time could be on screen (without clever programming that is). Many systems, including the popular Commodore 64, allowed more colors on screen at once with the catch that you couldn't just set any pixel to whatever color you wanted willy nilly; the screen was instead broken up into blocks, and within each block there could only be a limited number of colors (typically 2 or 4) depending on the resolution and computer. And finally, among this list of tricks to achieve color are systems that took advantage of artifacting in NTSC composite video. This oddball technique turned a flaw into an advantage to achieve more colors on the screen with the disadvantage being a loss of resolution and clarity...