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March 22nd, 2013, 20:10
Traditional 8 bit color depth offers 256 possible colors, but by trippling that amount you get 24 bit "true color". This equals 256 of red, 256 of green and 256 of blue. 256^3 equals 16,777,216 variations of color. Since the human eye can't distinguish more than ~10 million this means that computers have peaked the color range that humans can see.

But since data is generally stored in packages that can be divided by 2 you often get 32 bit color rather than 24 bit which is a "waste" of 8 bit per unit. In modern computer these 8 bit are often used to store an alpha channel (transparency).

Printers use a reverse coloring process that prints small dots of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. At a distance the colors blur together and appear in a different color. Yellow and Magenta when mixed becomes red. Magenta and Cyan when mixed becomes blue and Cyan and yellow when mixed becomes green.

One key advantage of early Macintosh's using the Macintosh operating system were the color profiles that made it possible to get a very calibrated color output. Colors on the Macintosh monitor should look similar to colors on the Macintosh printer. PC's couldn't provide similar calibration until much later which gave Macintosh an early advantage in desktop publishing.
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