William Hudson of Syntagm Ltd. confirmed my recollection that white text on a blue background was used in the WordPerfect environment. William also noted that many MS-DOS applications used the same color contrast. As time went on, however, many companies switched to black text on a white background (most notably, Microsoft). In any event, the white on blue contrast provides especially good contrast in low brightness environments. And, as William told me, this was very useful when refresh rates were slower (i.e., less than 60 Hz). The white on blue contrast in such situations reduced perceived flicker.
Joy Schwarz, Web Coordinator and Librarian of the Winnefox Library System, passed me two great URLs. The first is the Color Test Results page. On this page, Dr. Lauren Scharff provides a summary of the results of a survey which was designed to measure the readability of various foreground/background color combinations. It is an excellent resource. The second resource is the report on Readability Of Websites With Various Foreground/Background Color Combinations, Font Types and Word Styles, by Alyson L. Hill. This is also a useful resource. Taken together, the Scharff and Hill sites provide an excellent picture of text and background readability issues.
Finally, Jason Orrill, a Performance Technologist at Strategic Interactive, Inc., sent me some interesting information about the Apple IIgs. Apparently, the Apple IIgs text display defaulted to white on blue (using the AppleColor 12" monitor). Jason also told me that the GS had a palette of 16 colors to choose from; you could set text color, background, and the outside frame. In his opinion, for the IIgs environment, the black on white contrast was too bright. Instead, white on blue (and also orange or green on black) provided a much better look and feel.
If you have other relevant information to add to this brief report, please feel free to send them to me. Once again, thanks to all for your assistance.
Compiled by John S. Rhodes
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