What were the 256 colors in 8-bit computers?

The 8-bit computers included the Commodore 64,[1 the Atari 800,[2 the MSX[3 and the ZX Spectrum. [4

They usually did not have 256 colors at their disposal, but usually up to 16. I think a certain confusion arose from the original questioner on the English-speaking Quora.

The IBM computers that were running MS-DOS and VGA video card[5 were able to conjure 256 colors from a color palette of 262,144 on the screen with a resolution of 320×200 pixels.This VGA video card was first introduced in 1987 over 30 years ago. These IBM computers and their clones were 16-bit computers. [6

What is meant by 8-bit is the number of colors, 256 is after all 2 to power 8.

An example of a palette of 256 colors

A screen shot of a computer game in 256 colors, with a resolution of 320×200 (King’s Quest V from 1990) [7

Furthermore, the term 8-bit computers mean that the CPU or the computer’s central processor have 8-bit database input, while the 16-bit computers CPU have 16-bit database inputs.

Briefly said by the bend, this means that the 16-bit computers can handle multiple data faster.

I hope that this question will be answered.


[1 Commodore 64-Wikipedia

[2 Atari 8 bit family-Wikipedia

[3 MSX-Wikipedia

[4 ZX Spectrum-Wikipedia

[5 Video Graphics Array-Wikipedia

[6 IBM Personal Computer-Wikipedia

[7 King’s Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go yonder!Screenshots for DOS-MobyGames

The majority consisted of all combinations of red, green and Blue, in increments of 20%.That delivers 6 X 6 X 6 gradations, so 216 in total.That is also what one called Web-safe colors in the early years of the web.

The remaining 40 were just as different on many systems and/or reserved for special colours such as additional variations in increments of 25%, or even functions such as fixed patterns or shading.

Unfortunately I would tap this on an iPad, otherwise I would have made some more work from some images.Maybe later, in an update…

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