A Look into the Colours of Hello World!

Posted on September 27, 2012 by Ben Harris

Many have asked us about what exactly is the inspiration for each of the Hello World! colours. We do like an air of mystery and the fun of the game in trying to figure them out, but enough time has passed now that I thought the time was right to explain which parts of my IT ravaged brain our inaugural babies spawned from, in as much plain english as possible!

Firstly, the name itself.

You only need to look within the first pages of any book on learning some form of programming and you'll come across "Hello World!" somewhere. The first thing you are ever taught in any language is to get the computer to talk back to you by having it write text to the screen. A command as simple as -

PRINT "Hello World!"

It became the unwritten standard that those are the computers first waking words. So too, are they now the first waking words of Pretty Serious. :)


I'm sure this needs no real introduction. The "Blue Screen of Death" has become less frequent these days, but it's impact has still been felt by most.

Yep, the good old Windows fatal error screen. As much as we all hate it though, it really was the best colour from the Windows world to turn into make-up!


We jumped through several video display standards in what was a relatively short period of time during the early IBM PC days. One of the most memorable being the jump from Monochrome into the world of colour with CGA - Colour Graphics Adapter. It's colour palette and range of colours it could simultaneously display, however, made it memorable for two very special reasons.

Magenta and Cyan.

That there is a picture of one of my favourite games of the time - Alley Cat. It only takes a quick Google search for any game in CGA to see the wave of magenta and cyan coming at you. Those exact shades are rather unforgettable after a while, and rather unique. The magenta was the original idea I pitched to Kaz, but she was determined to get that cyan sheen in there to go with it! It was a feat, but she pulled it off!

Forbidden Fruit

Out of the computing stone ages and back to more recent times, we couldn't do a tech related collection with Apple getting mention. The inspiration for this colour came from their iMac's, Macbooks and classic iPod's.

We wanted to have a classic Apple white, but with the somewhat glittery silver effect that these products have in order to add a bit of it's own character.

Morning Java

A play on words of it's own accord, given that coffee is a late night IT staple (not for me, I hate the stuff!) and Java is that little applet that bugs you to be updated almost every morning...

Yeah, you know the one! So as you can see, this colour is more of an "inspired by" instead of a direct influence.


Tux the penguin is the Linux mascot.

He is the figurehead of the Open Source community, and I guess in his own way, a symbol of rebellious computing freedom. He also has a girlfriend called Gown (geddit?) who has a bow on her head, much like Ms Pacman.


This one is the most obscure. You know those basic black and green terminal screens that you see in the movies? You know the screens with the tumbling characters on the Matrix? There you have it.

These are essentially what we call dumb terminals, or consoles. These have been around since ancient server times and you will still find one tucked away in most datacentre's today. When that server just doesn't want to play nice and you want a direct line straight to it, plug one of these guys in and hope for the best. While they come in a few different screen colours, the black and green are the classics. The glow of the green is what we were particularly interested in.

Now, the problem is, what do you call it? Kaz was heavily opposed to calling it "Terminal" since she didn't like the hint of potential death around it, so she asked me too nerd it up a little more and make it a bit more techie. A little more specific. The VT100 was the standard Digital terminal that to this day we still emulate, even when plugging in with our shiny new laptops. That's a name that my fellow dwellers of the server room no doubt smiled and gave a happy nod to when they saw it. 

For everyone else, just think of the terminal screen. ;)


Posted in Hello World!



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