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Monitors control panel 7.5

16 grays on a classic Mac.

4-bit color is a color depth that can allow for up to 16 grays, or 16 colors assigned by a color lookup table (CLUT). This is referred to as "16 colors" on classic Macintosh systems, and the EGA standard by PC users.

Color palettes[]

Monitors control panel 7.5

16 colors on a classic Mac, showing the System Palette.

When the cost of video RAM was high, early computers used color palettes to improve the appearance of graphics with a limited number of colors.

Apple Computer[]

Apple Computer implemented the 8 basic QuickDraw colors in a rudimentary 16-color "System Palette", though the term is more commonly associated with the 256-color palette.[1]


Microsoft implemented a palette based on the EGA standard in which the first 8 colors were lower-luminosity values of the last 8.[2]


  1. Color Palettes (PDF) by Marc Johnson, Columbia University School of the Arts. 2020.
  2. Microsoft Windows 1.01, PCjs Machines. 1985-11-20.

See also[]

External links[]

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Color depths
Bitmap | 2-bit color | 4-bit color | 8-bit color
RGB color : 16-bit color | 24-bit color | 32-bit color
Deep color : 48-bit color | 64-bit color | 96-bit color | 128-bit color