[ Retro GIF of the Week ] The Empire Strikes Back

December 3rd, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Star Wars AT-AT Empire Strikes Back Retro GIF - circa 1988Click to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ]

The Empire Strikes Back is one of my favorite films of all time, so I have always cherished this particular image that someone uploaded to my BBS in the early 1990s. It depicts two AT-ATs walking through the snow in a scene recalling the Battle of Hoth from the 1980 film.

Its 16-color 640×400 format suggests a few possibilities as to its origin platform. IBM's little-used MCGA standard (introduced in 1987) could do 640×400 at 16 colors, and so could a few "extended EGA" graphics cards on the IBM PC platform.

But so could the Amiga — in fact, 640×400 at 16 colors was its original high-end graphics mode. Since many early GIF files originated in the graphically rich culture of the Amiga (a machine well-known for its graphics capabilities), and since this file is dated 1988, and since MCGA adapters were scarce, I'd say this image most likely originated on the Amiga platform.

[ Update: 11/04/2012 - Since I originally wrote this, I've realized that this AT-AT image uses a 12-bit (4096) color palette (from that palette the artist could use 16 colors on screen at a time), which was unique to the Amiga platform. So this image definitely originated on an Amiga. ]

By the way, this image is actually signed by the artist. You can see a small "BMW" in the lower right corner (and we're not talking about the German car company here). If anyone knows who BMW is, please leave a comment. That would be fascinating to find out.

[ Wondering what a GIF is? Read the introduction to this column. ]

Retro GIF of the Week Fact Box
Source File Name: ATAT.GIF
Source File Date: June 26, 1988
Source File Format: GIF - 87a (non-interlaced)
Dimensions: 640 x 400 pixels
Color Depth: 4-bit (16 color), 12-bit palette (4096 colors)
Origin Platform: Amiga
Derived From: Unknown
Creation Date: circa 1988
Artist: BMW
If you know more about the origin of this image, please leave a comment.

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