Enhanced Graphics Adapter

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An IBM EGA card.

The Enhanced Graphics Adapter (EGA) is a piece of display hardware which gives IBM Personal Computers color graphics capabilities superior to those of the earlier Color Graphics Adapter. It was designed and developed by IBM and first sold in 1984, but competing companies quickly reverse-engineered it and sold clones. The display type was extremely popular for MS-DOS programs through the mid to late 1980s. IBM also sold a more advanced Professional Graphics Controller, but it was out of the price range for home users. The EGA was superseded in 1987 by the Video Graphics Array (VGA) which added superior color graphic capabilities, although software continued to support EGA for years to follow.

Technical Specifications

The complete EGA color palette.

EGA supports four graphics modes and four text modes. Its highest graphic resolution is 640x350 with 4-bit color (16 distinct colors at once, chosen from a palette of 64 colors), but most programs which supported EGA used its more primitive 320x200 resolution with 4-bit color and didn't modify the default color palette. One of the few game companies which frequently modified the EGA palette was Maxis.

I spent a lot of my childhood acquainted with EGA graphics, not just because a lot of games I played used it, but because it was a very popular QuickBASIC screen (screen 7). Even though I haven't bothered with it in decades, I still have the default EGA color palette memorized.

King's Quest IV - DOS - Screenshot - Genesta's Bedroom.png
Actual data from King's Quest IV
(320x200 resolution, 1:1 pixel ratio)

EGA Example - Simulated 320x200.png
Simulated monitor (1:1.2 pixel ratio).

SimAnt - DOS - Screenshot - EGA.png
Actual data from SimAnt
(640x350 resolution, 1:1 pixel ratio).

EGA Example - Simulated 640x350.png
Simulated monitor (1:1.37 pixel ratio).


All software that used 4-bit Color

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



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