Amazing demo gets 1000 colors out of 4-color CGA PC card from 1981


Dedication! Now, for the full effect, they really should timewarp to 1981 and really blow some minds.

(ironically, no one would get what’s with the DeLorean references)


I am hugely more impressed with this than any modern PC graphics.

When you’ve got all those rich APIs to tap into, where’s the challenge?


I’m sure that’s an amazing technological feat, but I couldn’t read the words.

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That’s amazing work. Fucking fantastic. Bravo, guys.

Man, Turbo Assembler brings back memories.

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I had one of those graphics cards!

I have vague memories of people doing tricks with the composite output to get lots of colors, but nothing like this.

I did read articles on how to evoke the “hidden” low-res 16-color graphics mode; 160 x 100 pixels or something like that. It wasn’t accessible via BASIC, which was the only language I knew back then, but if I remember right there were a few games that used it.

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The old Tandy Color Computers’ high resolution mode only had two colors black and off-white… One could get a similar palette of colors by using various patterns of dots and lines – the only problem was that one had to reboot until the red and blue were correct.

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When creating a demo, by all mean, be sure to use an unreadable font!

It feels really weird to watch this demo on my cell phone… and then to miss my Amiga so fiercely!


Amazing indeed! It reminds me of and makes me sad to think of all the 5150s and 5160s we scrapped back in the day. Hundreds of them. I wish we could have run this on them then! ~1994 or so.

When I got sick of mine just sitting around, I packed it back in its original box, with its original DOS and BASIC manuals (and some more I picked up along the way) and brought it to a recycling event. I had this hope that someone would recognize it for what it was and pluck it out of the tear-down pile.

Don’t tell me otherwise.



Didn’t the Amiga have a lot of custom silicon? This demo does everything the hard way,on generic hardware.
Presumably, some pretty powerful computers were used to precalculate everything.

I think that’s a burned-in tradition from the good ol’ ASCII-art BBS days. Possibly carried over from graffiti art? Seems to be pretty much inescapable for anything in a certain segment of “old-school” computer artistry.


One might have had a chance to decipher it, if it wasn’t bouncing up and down.

As for the accomplishment, it’s not bad. But remember that the Amiga, which would be out in just a few more years, could display 32 colors, but had a built-in “hack” called HAM (hold-and-modify) that could allow it to display, for the times, stunning images in thousands of colors.

My first computer had 16-color CGA… on a green-phosphor monitor. This sort of hack would have been completely wasted on it.

Then again, it was also using hardware-based emulation to act like an 808x. Would be interesting to see if it was able to make anything of this demo…

The Apple IIGS had lots of silly graphics modes.

3200 colors per image

but most publishers just seemed to use an EGA style palette,

Most Impressive, No?

Compared to the old Z-100 pretending to be an IBM PC, with “pretend” CGA on a monochrome monitor…

Actually, I’m not sure which was more impressive, now that I think about it. :smiley: But, yes, in capability, definitely.

Here’s that same screen for Amiga.

It’s not just the 32 colors versus 16. It’s that the iigs graphics team didn’t even try.


I distinctly remember a ][gs demo from back in the day that used scanline rendering to increase the visible colors for displaying static images by swapping out the color palette as the scanline traversed the image. That was contemporary with the ][gs itself. (Not saying these guys aren’t doing something cool, just saying scanline rendering is old as the hills.)

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You say “but” as that shadows their achievement somehow. You don’t even need to go to the Amiga; it points out right in the intro that the C64 (released only a year after the IBM 5150, and vastly cheaper) could outperform the 5150 in almost every way. The point is that they accomplished something that should have been impossible on that hardware.