How I discovered I’m a bit colourblind

Vic 20 boot screen I’m a bit colourblind. It only affects certain ranges of colours. I first realised this when I got a Vic-20. No, really. The default screen colour was white, and the default border colour was cyan.

I thought cyan looked like green. People tell me it’s really a light blue, indeed I remember reading an interview with some Commodore engineers who had debated about whether to call it light blue or cyan.

There were eight colors available; white, black, red, cyan (light blue), purple, green, navy blue, and yellow.

Commodore history

In real life my colourblindness is so mild it only seems to affect one thing: spotting the numbers in Ishihara tests.

14 thoughts on “How I discovered I’m a bit colourblind

  1. Nathan

    My first PC was a TRS 80 Coco, and I clearly remember wondering what the hell “cyan” and “magenta” were. I think I had a grand total of 16 colours, but the resolution for me to play with was like 80*40 or something. Surprising what pictures you can come up with though :)

  2. John

    I have friends who are twins and they are both really colourblind. When we were kids it was always funny – I remember once when we were about 6 or 7 they were almost at blows arguing over thier favourite socks which they were both claiming to be a different colour.

    We always teased them that they were part dog which is why they couldn’t see colours properly.

  3. Jed

    I had a roomate in my university days that was colorblind. He would get upset if you asked him how he perceived a certian color but he would ask me to look at cloths sometimes to identify the color. To him a green traffic light appeared white and green stripes on his shirt appeared grey. He could not tell the difference between dark brown or navy pants and socks. I had another friend once who could not tell yellow and red apart and he would have to look at the order and not the color of traffic lights to tell a yellow from a red light. This was a problem when he came across a single flashing light and could not tell if it was yellow meaning proceed with caution or red meaning a stop sign.

  4. Jed

    I just took a different online color test (second external link on the wikipedia page) and got a perfect score. It had many boxes with a grid and a letter, number or shape behind the grid and some other colored boxes to identify. It seems to determine the type of colorblindness (Daltonism) one has. Did you try this test too?

  5. Graeme Porter

    I have the same issue – that Cyan just looks greenish to me.

    These bloody Ishihara colour tests are what stopped me from joining the RAF when I was younger. I can see fine, it’s just a very mild difference in shades to me.

    The alternative to Ishihara test Jed refers to describes me as being 47% likely to be a sufferer of Deuteranomaly (or red/green colourblindness), with the suffering element being green (deuteranopia).

    It doesn’t affect my life one jot.

  6. The first computer I used was a Sinclair ZX-80. I don’t recall if it had colours or not.

    I really don’t get what’s wrong with purple and orange combo. It just sounds bright to me.

  7. Goodness, you had a Vic 20 too? Obsolete within a year of coming out, as the Commodore 64 just came along!

    I later had a couple of Tandy TRS80s which were actually very good machines for word processing (which was what I needed at the time). Indeed, I typed half the manuscript for a freiend’s book on one! (Can;t believe I did all that now without things like, er, a mouse!)

    Back to the Vic 20, I, too, was puzzled by the word “cyan”. I knew what “magenta” was, though, as a result of growing up with Gerry Anderson’s “Captain Scarlet”!

  8. Andrew V

    Aaahh, the good ol’ days of the Commodore 64! When you could start loading up a game, go make a cup of tea, come back, and STILL wait a couple of minutes!! I still have mine, and it still works- well, the last time I connected it up was over a year ago! Was it just me, or did many of the games take longer to load than to play, because you’d wait 5 minutes to load a game, then after playing a minute of it, you’d realise it was crap, and reset it!! It was even worse with the tape deck- God, I can’t imagine I’d ever again wait half an hour to load a crap game!!!!!!
    Boy, it did have a lot of crap games, but many great ones- classic ones!!
    By the way, does anyone remember this ad and jingle from 20 years ago!?
    Apart from the music, also loved the multi-coloured loading border screens that epileptics wouldn’t be able to watch! Great times!!

  9. Only 5 mins? When I first got a C64, before TurboTape had been devised, some games took about 15 mins to load!

    That Youtube video is a bit painful on the ears due to the muffly sound. Have a look around though, there are others.

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