One iOS Icon Is Larger Than The Entire Original Macintosh Screen

Here are some numbers to blow your mind: The original Macintosh, released in 1984, had a monochrome 512×342 pixel display. That was 175,104 points. Today, the icons on iOS are 512x512 pixels, drawn from a 16.7 million colour palette plus 256 levels of transparency.

Click image to expand.

Twenty-eight years ago, a monochrome icon on the Mac was 16x16 pixels. It only took 32 bits of memory. Compare to the 512x512 pixels of each iOS' icon. It takes four times the total video memory of the original Mac to represent a single icon in iOS at full size. Of course, iOS icons are not shown on screen at that size. They are much smaller. Eventually, however, you can be sure that there will be displays that would require that insane pixel density.

What is remarkable is that the absolute size of the icons remains more or less the same. It's an amazing increase in the density of information required to represent the exact same object with the exact same meaning. Eye candy is expensive.

Another comparison: the new iPad 2012 has a 2048x1536 screen, with 9.7-inch physical size. That's four times as many pixels long by 4.5 times as many pixels tall as the original Macintosh, which had a 9-inch screen.

If anyone had told me this when I tried my first Mac, back in the '80s, I would have never believed it.



    Did Diaz post some of his personal Apple pron to Giz by mistake?

      The Fapp-le bank.

    The 512x512 icon required on app submission is not used on device. It's for the iTunes desktop app coverflow screen.

      What a brainless article. Just do the maths - if iOS icons were actually 512x512, you'd only fit 8 on an iPad screen and not quite 2 on an iPhone, with no space around them at all. Even with the new displays, I doubt they are more than 128x128.

        your name is apt. perhaps read the whole article before opening your motor mouth next time?

        'Of course, iOS icons are not shown on screen at that size. They are much smaller. Eventually, however, you can be sure that there will be displays that would require that insane pixel density.'

          So in other words, this article on "iOS icons" is not on actual iOS icons. It's just a comment on the fact that Apple displays are increasing in resolution. Why single Apple out? Well obviously because they're the only company which this applies to. *cough*

            sigh... This article is more about the technology development.
            Apple is out cause it used to produce computers in 80s which were low res and the software was low res as well, now they produce things with high res screens and high res software, so the change can be clearly demonstrated.

              Surely not, but why single, let's say, Microsoft out? Or anything else? Doesn't really matter and Apple should fit as an example as well as almost any other system provider. Where's the problem in choosing Apple?

              Besides this, Microsoft didn't really have a GUI back in 1984, Linux didn't even exist. Amiga OS and Atari OS do not exist any more. So, give us a good example for an alternative. AFAIK is Apple the only one with a graphical OS which existed back in '84 and still is on the market. Please correct if I'm wrong.

    Just to nit-pick the article, the original 16x16 monochrome icons would have taken up 32 *bytes* of memory, rather than the stated 32 bits.

    good to see the same old Giz Fandroids posting negative rubbish at the end of every Apple article Jesus dares post.

    I guess it must be very frustrating for Apple haters seeing the new iPad's display blow away anything else on the Android roadmap for the next 12 months :)

    Why not just enjoy the interesting look back at how far display tech has come, rather than try to pick holes in the article?

      Idiot, look at Galaxy Note 10.1 and upcoming Asus Transformers. Way superior to the iPad. You forget the biggest problem with iPad.. iOS it's so out of date.

        Both devices you mentioned got a stunning 1280x800 … compared to the iPad’s 2048x1536, where is that superior?

        And: what’s so outdated about iOS? Examples?

    This has been your patented Jesus Diaz CACA (Crap Apple Crack Advertisement) for the day, please return tomorrow for more exclusive Apple Inventions. Tomorrow: one-button-mice

    Obvious apple advert is obvious...

    I'm still sick of them though.

      so you read it so you could comment that you are sick of reading them. Well done.

        They read it because they're a (disappointed) optimist.

        Decades ago a friend of mine wrote her Masters thesis on an Apple computer that had no hard drive. One 3 1/2 inch floppy included the OS her Word app and her thesis. This blows my mind more than an I pad, pod, or phone. That today people wax lyrically about icon design, screen resolution, the number of available apps... is pure bs.

          That's because old software contained very little eye candy, only basics. Software is taking up more and more space due to it having a lot more color depth, design, features and all kinds of stuff which is not a necessity but rather an addition. Yeah, an entire OS and programs for work on a 1.44mb floppy is pretty cool but boring. Everything changes and gets more additions to it. Look at your fridge, TV, cars, anything.
          Also if you want to run an OS and software for work from something small you can run Linux from a flash drive, which is smaller than a floppy disk in size.
          iPods and iPhones are no longer mind blowing because we know what to expect from technological progress, not because they are less amazing.

    Apple updated their "Custom Icon and Image Creation Guidelines" on 3/7/2012. It now requires 1024x1024 icons for the App Store!

    I thought Giz was past the Apple stories for the sake of Apple. I suppose it's good advertising revenue.

    All this could be said of ANY os yet you have to use Apple. BORING!!!!!!!!!!

      Right. With any OS. So why not use Apple? Hater …

    Please someone show me a released (or even an announced) product from any other competitor that even comes close to the new iPad's retina display and A5X + Quad core PowerVR combo.

    The reality is Tegra 3 is already outdated and all Android fans have to look forward to this year are more half-arsed so called "iPad killers" with a max screen resolution of 1920x1200 in an aspect ratio I hate for tablets. 16:10 is obviously better for movies, but horrible for anything in portrait mode. Particularly if you use your tablet as an E-Reader. There's a reason Apple are sticking to 4x3 and going for an even 1:4 scale of screen resolution.

    I think Fandroids look at iOS's static icon grid and think that's somehow representative of the OS. The reality is I barely use the springboard and the last thing I want are battery draining useless widgets cluttering it up.. Its just an easy way to see what apps are installed, and to group them into folders, but I launch pretty much everything from spotlight and then multitask with ease with simple swipe gestures that instantly switch between open apps.

    Its the apps themselves you should be concentrating on. Because the range and quality make "Google Play" look like a 2nd rate store. All big name iOS apps are in the process of being upgraded to retina quality and the better the artist/designer the more the screen will shine. Particularly for 2D hand drawn strategy games which will now be able to take a huge leap in detail.

    The quality that will now be on offer from next generation 2048x1536 apps (with the additional improvement to colour gamut of 44%) will be incredible. Accept it. Only Apple haters and luddites (which I equate with - "we don't need colour TV, black and white is fine") can't appreciate what a massive improvement this will make to app quality.

    The iPad outsold all laptops from all the PC manufacturers combined in the last financial year. And competitors are madly trying to catch up with tablets that are barely even on the map their market percentage is so low. That should probably tell you something! ......oh right I forgot. The massive sales numbers means all Apple fans are "sheep" because we prefer the best tablet on the market to an overpriced last generation 1280x800 Android tablet (that might be upgraded to ICS sometime in the next 6 months) for the same price as the new iPad.. LOL

    You Android fanatics are hilarious with your inability to appreciate anything from Apple. Go and have a look at the new iPad and try to hate that screen. If you're even remotely into tech and have decent eyesight, you'll want that screen. Otherwise you're just in denial, blinded by your hatred for Apple.

      Where’s the like-button? Very well written, couldn’t have said it better.

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