Colors with names

My first computer had a screen with two colors: black and white. Then I got one with 256 colors, quite an improvement. Now I can have 16,777,216 colors on my screen.

That’s too much; let’s focus on colors that have a name.

How computers identify colors

Computers work with numbers. To identify screen colors they use numbers, which are of course stored as bits and bytes. The black-white monitors of long ago only needed 1 bit to identify the color of a pixel on the screen. One bit can be 0 or 1, which represents black and white.

To show 256 different colors we need an entire byte to identify the color of each pixel on the screen. A byte has 8 bits. It can be used to show 2^8 = 256 numbers (i.e. from 0 to 255), which in turn can identify 256 distinct colors.

Nowadays computers usually use 3 bytes (or more) to identify the color of one pixel. Three bytes is 24 bits. That means we have 2^24 = 16,777,216 numbers available and each pixel can therefore be shown in just as many colors.

How computers show colors

Mixing colors
Mixing colors red green and blue

Computer screens use a method called RGB, which means Red Green Blue. When these three colors are mixed together they can produce all the colors that are needed for images on the screen. For each of these 3 colors there are 256 possible variations or shades.

In the RGB method the 256 possible variations of each of the 3 colors are numbered from 0 to 255. We can fully describe each color by giving its RGB number, which is 3 numbers, always in the order: Red, Green, Blue. For example, 255,255,255 is the RGB value for white because white is the greatest possible amount of all three colors. The RGB value for black is 0,0,0. Pure red has RGB value 255,0,0 and so on.

How people identify colors

Normal people (not nerds) identify colors by name, such as the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. But many other colors have a name: turquoise, brown, beige, grey, pink, ocher, fire red, sea green, sky blue, azure, gold, cyan, olive green, ivory.

I have found about 250 colors that have a name with their corresponding computer coding.

Colors with names

The below table shows colors that have a real name. Colors are in alphabetical order and for each color you see the corresponding hexadecimal code and the RGB values.

Note that some names are used for different colors; there are two different colors that are called green. Also, sometimes the same color may have different name. For example aqua and cyan are different names for the same color.

If you know any other colors with a name, please send me a message.

Have a look at these proverbs and quotes about colors.

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