A Brief History of Desktop Backgrounds

by : Ahmed

Desktop backgrounds are what used to be known as computer wallpapers. Although wallpapers that we know of today seem trivial, it also has its history and evolutionary process. The term wallpaper is actually derived from Microsoft Windows. It is in this operating system where the term "wallpaper" was introduced. For MAC, it used to be called a "desktop picture."

The use of desktop backgrounds may be traced to as early as 1975. This was part of the experimental or trial system being designed for the office by XeroxPAC, the name of which is Officetalk. The patterns used for the pictures were gray dots. Just like in dot matrix pictures of earlier computers, the dots were pixelated. All of the wallpapers before were just whiter, black, or gray since there were no colored monitors yet at that period. Eventually, the emergence of colored monitors gave way to much better pictures of higher pixel content and better picture output.

Desktop backgrounds now have evolved from simple dotted drawings to 3-dimensional animation. Now, anyone can get free wallpapers to download. However, not all designs found in the Internet may be downloaded as there are other specifications necessary to get them. Wallpaper sizes or dimensions are standardized. Although this may be tweaked to the user's preference, it is not really advised to tinker with the computer monitor resolution since it will change how the pictures are presented if expanded made smaller. Majority or the common sizes or dimensions are: 1024 X 768; 800 X 600; 1600 X 1200; and 1280 X 1024. If you will notice, all of these combinations are divisible by 256. This is because 256 is then least bit of the color monitor pixels. Then, if you will notice, the first number is always 4 and the second number is always 3. Example, for 1024 X 768 resolution, 1024 divided by 256 is 4 and 768 divided by 256 is 3. That is because this is the most advisable ration of pixels on computer monitors.

This will be different for bigger screens, though, since the resolution capacity of bigger screens is larger. For larger screens, the ration of the resolution is not really 4:3 but 16:9 or 16:10. According to experts, the pictures may be tweaked to compensate for the needs of the screen size.

Another issue with desktop backgrounds is for users who have dual monitors. Some companies provide computers for their employees with only one CPU but two monitors because they have to optimize multitasking. The solution to this is to multiply the wallpaper by two. This process is called double-width versions. This will make the computer wallpapers appear in both monitors as separate pictures instead of having it expanded for both.

There are other weird things that people can do with desktop backgrounds. Some have images that are deliberately imbalanced to make it look artistic. Some use videos as desktop to have entertainment. Some just use nothing but plain colors to cover the entire monitor or screen. No matter how a screen looks like, it simply boils down to the fact that it is a reflection of how one user expresses himself.