NeXTstation Color and true color support

Real support for colour in computers multi-purpose, first appeared on computers from NeXT. How the impossible became reality, and who’s to blame, I’ll try to tell you.

Continued. The previous series here, here, here, here, here and here, here and here.

The first “personal mainframe” from the NeXT color is not supported. In 1988, at a press conference after the “concert”, Steve explained why in the first development of the company do not support color.

Clearly, in my opinion. Reasoning about least common multiple – the software developers always focus on the weakest platform configuration…

For example, the smallest display size. So the Next world in the first two years of its history, was made grey.

But what is clear intelligent, the other either did not hear or consider an attempt to Dodge to swing the issue. What could be the problem with color support? Color has long been supported on all computer platforms, even in cheap PC boxes. Certainly not colorblind Steve? Mac and also had black-and-white longer than any other.

Abstruse nonsense and the promise of color in a year or two? Laughter!

But after two years (23 months later after the promise), the Symphony hall, Steve said that NeXT Computer says “color support”. Something completely new, this method was not, but was applied so far only in special workstations where price didn’t matter.

And again: the smart understand it. But the smartest noted that the subject matter is still in the development stage that it’s incredibly difficult and almost impossible. That is, deception. Maybe just a mistake: Steve had gone too far. Promised he’d even bring my previous Mercedes in orbit (Steve a year to buy the newest model of this company)!

In 1991, another world has ceased to be gray.

NeXT Color

The title can be interpreted in two ways. But you already knew. And what is written below is not an invention NeXT.

In the books about bill gates and Microsoft, for the kids, there were few words and many pictures. Not to torment the younger generation, the authors did not bother, and attributed to the main character of all: the invention of the personal computer, operating systems, graphical user interface (not naming him in any way, but showing it in the pictures), mouse, mouse pad, keyboard, and almost of the alphabet. I’m a little exaggerating.

We do not look for easy ways. The theory of color developed in the Renaissance, but not the fact that for thousands of years before some smart Greeks did it first, just that his writings have not survived, melted in the era of triumphant obscurantism.

At the beginnings of the theory – Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Wolfgang von Goethe, and many others. Color is one of the mysteries of nature, the bright and colorful.

In color television the color of each point of the screen is transmitted in the form of three components, red, green, and blue – by altering the intensity of this component was to transfer any of the colors the visible spectrum. The amount of data transferred in this case was three times more, but the level of technology of the mid-20th century successfully coped with the increased workload.

In the late 70’s color appeared demanding and affluent clients who wish to replace dangerous and costly stunts in feature films virtually. Much of what this client wanted to see on the screen, in the physical world or would have got a penny (it was in USA, not expensive to get), or it would be impossible.

… NYIT, Lucasfim, Pixar… Pixar even took some part Steve jobs.

From engineers demanded a miracle, and they made him. The physical world is ruled by the laws of physics. In virtual lawlessness, arbitrariness. There is no problem to create anything incredible and incomprehensible. But now you need to copy from the real world reliable and clear, and add to it the fact that it is impossible.

Bring dinosaurs back to life and force them to walk around the office, destroying furniture and trying employees taste. Sight!

While artists and filmmakers reflect the real world, there were no problems. All songs color, anywhere, with phenomenal accuracy, performed nature.

When it was necessary to apply this accuracy to virtual worlds, it has appeared that all not so is simple.

In the late 70’s Alvie ray Smith (in a few years – one of the founders of Pixar), probably the first in the world, came to the conclusion that another component, which specifies the transparency point. In 1984, a team of computer graphics Luxasfilm, Thomas Duff and Tom porter, summed up many years of work on the subject, published a fundamental work “Compositing Digital Images”, creating the algebra of compositions digital graphics. Is the Foundation of modern computer graphics.

From now on the color information of the points consisted of four components or channels: red, green, blue and alpha. The alpha channel is called “transparency”, but actually the opposite. This is “opacity”. A value of zero for this parameter indicates full transparency, a point with that value of alpha is not at all visible. And Vice versa.

NeXT, for the first time in the world, used the latest advances in computer graphics hardware of multi-purpose computers and their operating system.

Until then, color in personal computers, for technical reasons, presented as best they could – very ingenious and terribly uncomfortable – and we had to stop. In the late 80s it has become possible to work with graphics “for science”.

In 1990/1991 NeXT Computer introduced two format chrominance pixel, 16-bit and 32-bit.

In 16-bit color for each channel R, G, B and A, given by 4 bits. 4096 colors. In 32-bit per channel allocated 8 bits, these are the 16.7 million colors, so loved by advertisers and marketers value.

In addition to these two colors, there is another, unnoticed in the background of his colorful colleagues grayscale with transparency. Algebra songs worked for him.

MegaPixel Color Display

Brother color MegaPixel 17”, looks very similar to it, was capable of displaying up to 16.7 million colors. Developed NeXT, presumably in 1987-1991 years. If the NeXT and collaborated with someone (more likely than not), information about it could not be found.

The resolution is the same 1120х832. The same 17 inches (43.18 cm) diagonally, the same 92 dots per inch. It was almost two times heavier than “grey” counterpart, but in the design of the NeXTstation computers in the form factor of the “plate” or “box of pizza”, its weight was taken into account.

In the grey fellow all the connectors to work with audio were placed on display, and the cable is connected MegaPixel a computer called the “umbilical cord”, hiding under the shell of power wire cables for audio transmission cable for transmitting information from the mouse and keyboard. As a result, “gray” MegaPixel was an integral part of the configuration, and supplied with every car from NeXT.

MegaPixel the color was a separate power cable, and everything that did not involve video was made in SoundBox, a small box corporate black. According to Steve jobs, in order to be able to use displays from other manufacturers.

Perhaps there were technical reasons (color cathode-ray tube consumes more energy than black and white), but the developers silence. Maybe it’s really purely political (marketing) step.

Later, there were options MegaPixel Color Display with a big diagonal (up to 21 inch), with the same 92 dpi. It would be interesting to look into the alternative world, where this range of displays is the continued evolution of NeXT’s engineers had a special style their own, they had a chance to become the best or among the best – but in our reality this direction “died” in 1993.

Not always survive the best. Survive those who are lucky.

NeXTstation Color

This model was the first color computer from NeXT, received in the sale. The exact date is unknown, different sources are called different, but in June 1991 they were already in the hands of ordinary users. Most likely, sales began in late spring.

Externally, NeXTstation Color similar to a simple (colorless) NeXTstation. Like they are on technical data, but is a completely different model.

The basic kit NeXTstation Color – 12 megabytes of RAM, instead of 8 in “colorless” NeXTstation, and chips for her in a color other stations are used, with 72 “legs” instead of 36. Normal for effective work with color did not fit (not because of the number of legs, of course).

Video controller for operation with 16-bit color is an important element configuration, its efforts at MegaPixel Color Display 4096 colors are displayed. But not only that.

Due to the dithering (dithering), it seems that colors a lot more. This effect is responsible for the video controller NeXTstation Color. Someone decided that since the station set is switched on, the display capable of displaying up to 16.7 million colors, to discredit him with a blunt display of what would be politically incorrect.

Invented the “blur” on the NeXT. The effect applied on the graphical workstations from the mid-80s, and it was opened during the Second world war.

The essence of the effect in the mix signal (of any nature) with pseudorandom noise is used more often “white noise”. Used in audio, video and chart.

It was opened by accident, and until 1945 the information about it was top secret. In the sights for bombing used sophisticated mechanical computers, in which the calculation was carried out by hundreds, and even thousands of precision “gears”.

It quickly became clear that these mechanisms in the air worked better and more accurate than on earth. The reason is also found quite quickly, and confirmed experimentally: vibration from the engines created a noise, causing the mechanism to work more smoothly, without jerks.

In the NeXTstation Color, NeXTstation compared to usual, there were too many differences. Because of these differences, “color” station, working with 16-bit color, performance is not inferior to the grey.

Side effect: “grey” to turn into a NeXTstation NeXTstation Color was absolutely impossible. As expected, despite warnings and cautions, hundreds of users have contacted the technical support NeXT Computer for help in upgrading.

And another side effect: in a configuration with a hard disk 105 megabytes worth NeXTstation Color 7 $ 995. Colorless station cost 4 995.

In the sequel, NeXTdimension, NeXTcube Color and uncompromising 32-bit color on a normal “personal workstations”.

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