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The iFacts Collection - Interesting Page Related Content
iFact #18 - Computer Desktop Wallpaper
Computer Wallpaper, also known as Desktop Wallpaper has been enjoyed in its current state right from the time that home computers became available to the general public as personal commodities. Even before that time computer operators found ways to dress up their monitor screens, some experimenting with what would eventually be today's computer wallpaper, but it was the period around 1994 - 1995 when home computers - both PC's and Macs - and the internet began their surge in popularity that scores of desktop wallpaper pictures became available to anyone with an internet connection and used by nearly everyone regardless. It was the color monitor that made all the difference to the use and enjoyment of desktop wallpaper. Let's go back a little and see how it all started.
The History of Computer Desktop Wallpaper
The first use of a distinguishable background in conjunction with overlapping windows was in an experimental office system, Officetalk, developed in 1975 at Xerox PARC on the Alto computer. Prior to that, the white backgrounds to overlapping windows (for example, in Smalltalk) could be difficult to distinguish from window interiors. The pattern used in Officetalk produced a 25% gray, using dots two pixels high to avoid flicker on the Alto's interlaced screen. The same pattern was adopted for the Xerox Star.
Apple (Mac) used a similar gray background for their Lisa and Macintosh computers. However, since these machines had non-interlaced screens it was possible to use a less noticeable background pattern, formed from a simple 2x2 repeating pattern that gave a 50 percent gray. The introduction of color monitors for personal computers led to non-patterned, single-color backgrounds and then to arbitrary 'wallpapers'.
Computer Desktop Wallpaper Dimensions
Many screen resolutions are proportional in a 4:3 ratio, so an image scaled to fit in a different-sized screen will still be the correct shape, although that scaling may impact quality. Common desktop wallpaper resolutions are 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200.
Users with widescreen (16:9 or 16:10) monitors have different aspect ratio requirements for computer wallpaper, although pictures designed for standard (4:3) monitors can often be scaled or cropped to the correct shape without undue loss of quality.
Computer wallpapers are sometimes available in double-width versions (e.g. 2560×1024) for displaying on multi-monitor computers, where the image appears to fill two monitors.
Some display systems allow unconventionally proportioned images (1:1, 2:1, or even 1:3) to be scaled without change of proportion, to fit the screen, whether it be 16:9 or 4:3. The image would be sized just large enough that one pair of edges touch the edges of the screen, but not all four, as this would unduly distort the wallpaper image. In these cases, the system's 'default' background color is visible around the other two sides of the desktop wallpaper picture.
Another common option, particularly for wallpaper images much smaller than the resolution of the display, is having the computer wallpaper image displayed multiple times like a series of tiles. This avoids the distortion of scaling.
More Computer Wallpaper iFacts can be found throughout the desktop wallpaper section of our website. If you are interested in reading them now, go to the iFacts page to see a list of topics and links to that information.
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