Color chart for safety dating chart
These colors needed to be described in no more than 8 bits of computer information, which by no coincidence is 256.
The colors in this basic palette would display solid (and not dithered) on specific platform's monitors that were capable of displaying 256 colors.
While the basic character set of lowercase and upper case characters and numerals map identically on all platforms, each computer platform treats some extended characters, like ampersands, foreign currency symbols, accented characters, and so forth, differently.
And so a proper curly quote mark on one computer platform might be a pound sign on another.
To give the appearance of more colors, and this is especially true of early monitors that could only display 16 pure colors, a process called dithering was used to give the impression of more colors.
There were many reasons for these color limitations, the high cost of video RAM being the foremost.
Most early video/graphics cards had between 128 and 512K of video RAM, or enough to display 16 to 256 colors. The 256 colors were determined by a mathematical formula, rather than their aesthetic qualities.
Where did Web Safe colors come from in the first place?
In the olden days, (ten or so years ago), most computers were only capable of displaying a maximum of 256 colors at one time.
Web Safe, or Browser Safe palettes as they are also referred to, consist of 216 colors that display solid, non-dithered, and consistent on any computer monitor, or web browser, capable of displaying at least 8-bit color (256 colors).
The reason why this palette contains only 216 colors, instead of the maximum 256 colors, is that only 216 out of the basic 256 colors will display exactly the same on all computers. This discrepancy is similar to what happens when a Windows user opens a word processor document created on a Macintosh (or vice versa) and sees a lot of odd characters in place of the expected punctuation marks and other extended characters.
This happens with colors as well, so what is gray on a Windows monitor, might display pale yellow on a Macintosh browser.In the same way that there are common characters and numbers that are consistent among computer platforms, so there are colors that display the same. Before I get any deeper into this, let me backtrack for a moment.