Throwback Thursday - Old Computers and Displays

Throwback Thursday - Gaming Through the Years

Shackleton Technologies

Written by Shackleton Technologies

Nowadays the PC is a graphical powerhouse.

With visuals that put next-generation gaming consoles to shame and effects that were once only possible in Tinseltown studios, the digital world now comes alive in your home office or place of work.

4K resolutions are becoming commonplace. The latest computer games employ advanced technologies like ‘ray tracing’ and ‘virtual reality’, but it wasn’t always like this, most of the early PC games looked more like ‘The Creeping Copper Coins’ below: 

Creeping Copper Coins

In case you are wondering what is going on in the action-packed sequence above; your character is the “@” and the creeping coins are the “$”, this was a high-tension combat moment. If you met a “d” it was a small dragon and if you met a “D” then run….

When PC’s launched back in 1981, there were two choices available.

Option 1 - A high definition “Hercules” monochrome screen with a whopping 720x384 pixel display. Everything was either green or grey, but, you could at least tell what you were looking at.

Egg Shaped Jigsaw With Letters

Option 2 - The alternative was “CGA” graphics. This had a paltry 320x200 pixel display but included a whopping 4 colours. There were 16 whole colours in the palette but it could only display 4 at any one time…It was like playing a game on Teletext/Ceefax and if you don’t know what that is ask your parents.

Kings Quest CGA Graphics

We gradually evolved through EGA (Enhanced Graphics Array), VGA (Video Graphics Array), SVGA (Super-Video Graphics Array) and a bunch of other made-up standards ending in GA up to our glorious 4K displays today.

Screen Resolution History


If you are reading this on a 27” 4K (3840x2160) display then the entire 320x200 PC screen of 1981 would fit in less than 10% of your viewing space, that’s approximately 5cm long and 3cm tall…makes it really hard to spell check that document!

Strip Poker Computer Line Art Graphic

Parting thoughts

1) In 1981 strip poker was more an imagination game of join the dots.

2) Yeah, the graphics are better today but is the gameplay? (okay, it probably is)

3) 8K monitors are available now (If you have about £3K)


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