In the last issue, I told the story of how I was introduced to video digitizers in the mid-1980s while working at Williams and began to explore their use in obtaining photo-realistic images for arcade games. The first digitizer I played with was made for an Amiga computer. It was crude and impractical, but it got me started on the path.

A real breakthrough came when I learned about a group within AT&T called the EPICenter (for Electronic Photography and Imaging Center) that had created a trio of graphic cards for PCs. They were the VDA (Video Display Adapter), ICB (Image Capture Board), and TARGA (Truevision Advanced Raster Graphics Adapter) board. The group split from AT&T in 1987 and called their new company Truevision.

The VDA was just a display card, but the ICB had the ability to digitize images from an external video source, such as a standard consumer camcorder. Its pixel resolution was identical to our video game hardware (256 x 240) and its color resolution was 2 bytes per pixel (5 bits each of red, green and blue, with an extra bit left over) for a total spectrum of 32,768 colors. It was also a true-color board in that it didn’t use a palette. Every pixel could be any one of those 32,768 colors. Of all the Truevision boards, the ICB seemed ideal for our purposes.

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