Dark Mode History: Modern tech or a classic comeback?

December 8, 2020

Image from www.vivaldi.com


 Dark mode has been a trending software tech these days. Famous companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple have been extensively using them in their smartphones, laptops, desktops, and many other devices. At least some type of dark-mode is present on your device, if not for the whole system software, then at least on one or two apps, like Facebook and Youtube.

What is Dark Mode? 

The dark mode is defined as white text and graphics in a lighter colour displayed over a dark background, usually black or dark grey.


In contrast, light-mode is described as black text and the graphics are in a darker shade presented over a light background, usually in white. 


What is the history of Darkmode and where did it come from? Is it a necessity of modern tech? Or, is it another mistaken innovation like the post-it-notes? Or, something classical?

Dark Mode The History: 

A look back in time tells us that it has been a thing of the past. Before, when office applications like word processors were introduced, the computer monitors were monochrome and showed output in one colour (Red, Green, or Amber) over a black background. It wasn’t intentional, but due to the limitations of hardware, these were the only colours available.


It wasn’t until a company named Xerox introduced a custom computer for office applications, that we had black text over a white background. It was designed to mimic the white paper. From thereon, every GUI (Graphical User Interface) has been designed in light mode.


Later, things changed. The Graphical User Interface became more popular, and then colour monitors were introduced to the market. Since the 80s, we have been using display and interfaces which shows black text over white background.

Modern Displays: 

Around the 2000s, a new type of display was introduced to the consumer market. It was called OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) Display. This display was power efficient compared to traditional LCD and CRTs. The interesting thing about OLED is that every pixel of that display had its light source, so no backlighting was required for this.


Later, engineers found out that OLED was more efficient when the GUI was presented with a dark background but only when using an old monochrome monitor. The researchers also found out the blue light from the traditional LCDs has drastic physical and mental effects on human health.


    From thereon, tech giants like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, and many other companies have been pushing the use of dark UI and the traditional light UI.

    Possibly we can say that it’s a thing from the past, but mistakenly realized by this generation, and has now become a necessity.

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