Pixel: a Biography

So why do so many people think that pixels are little squares? The answer is simple: apps and displays have fooled us for decades with a cheap and dirty trick. To ‘zoom in’ by a factor of 20, say, they replace each pixel with a 20-by-20 square array of copies of that pixel, and display the result. It’s a picture of 400 (spread) pixels of the same colour arranged in a square. It looks like a little square – what a surprise. It’s definitely not a picture of the original pixel made 20 times larger.

Alvy Ray Smith

I’ve been using Photoshop and other graphic programs for decades, and I absolutely thought pixels were little squares. This is a fantastic and informative essay. Highly recommended.