Color Graphics Adapter

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An IBM CGA card.

The Color Graphics Adapter (CGA) is a piece of hardware which gives IBM personal computers limited color graphics capabilities. It was designed and developed by IBM and first sold in 1981, but competing companies quickly reverse-engineered it and sold clones. It was superseded in 1984 by the Enhanced Graphics Adapter (EGA) which added superior color graphic capabilities.

CGA supports two text modes with 4-bit color, and three graphics modes: 160x100 at 4-bit color, 320x200 at 2-bit color, and 640x200 at 1-bit color. Also, CGA graphics could be sent to an NTSC television. Although the poor color handling of the NTSC signal caused artifacting, this could be manipulated to allow hundreds of colors beyond CGA specifications.

By the time I got into computers, EGA was already standard, and VGA graphics had just been introduced, so the games that used CGA looked pretty dated, and I wasn't very interested in them. However, there were some that were just so fun, I saw past the poor color quality.

I did a little bit of programming with CGA graphics in Quick BASIC where it was screen 2, but I mostly preferred the superior screens 7, 12, and 13.


All software that used 2-bit Color

These are programs that I think made good use of CGA graphics: