Blip: 8 Bit Bangers

Illustration for article titled Blip: 8 Bit Bangers
Screenshot: MobyGames

It’s Friday! The buttocks of the week, if you choose to measure it so. I thought you might like to see how a Porsche 959 and a Ferrari F40 looked as rendered on a Sinclair Spectrum, one of the biggest home computers in Britain in the 1980s. As the name suggested, the Spectrum could do color, but it was set up so that you could only have two colors per 8x8 block of pixels, so you ended up with lots of stuff that looked like this, in monochrome chunks.

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I really like the pattern dithering, though! These would make good bathroom tile patterns, too, if you’re rennovating.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!: https://rb.gy/udnqhh)

DISCUSSION

Fun fact: It’s possible to actually display up to 32 colours at once on a ZX Spectrum 48K using a CRT monitor running at a 150Hz refresh rate. By causing the screen to redraw specific portions of every frame before the electron beam of the CRT reaches the bottom, colours from the last time the beam crossed that line don’t get overwritten. This is because only the CPU in a ZX Spectrum handles screen draw commands unlike the Commodore 64 and BBC Micro, which had video display controllers to take that load off the CPU. Since the CPU’s executing the draw to screen commands much faster at 3.5MHz, it’s interrupting the CRT and telling it to start over again and again. This only works for static images though, as the processing required to update every frame would be too slow to execute before the electron beam made the next pass (and is also why slower monitors can’t achieve this effect—the electron beam’s redrawing so quickly that the phosphor hasn’t faded yet). If you’ve ever seen datamoshing, using the 32 colour mode and making things move ends up looks datamoshing but in much lower resolution:


You can also mod the ZX Spectrum to accept 64-bit registers and make it display 256 static colours at once, but that’s cheating.