Twenty-eight years ago, thanks to the efforts of a fan, the Los Angeles Dodgers quietly became a part of computer history. In 1989, the team’s famous Dodger blue was added to a color database that is now almost certainly included in the web browser you’re using to read this.
Paul Raveling, a software engineer who in 1989 was working at the Information Sciences Institute at USC, had been “tuning” colors to be properly displayed on computer monitors. He proposed a major update to the list of color names that were supported by the X11 user interface system, including one called “dodgerblue.”
Eventually, that list of colors would be incorporated into web browsers, which allow programmers writing HTML or CSS to type a color name instead of a code. Some of the names are unusual — “papayawhip,” “ghostwhite” and “blanchedalmond” are all included — but only one is named after a sports team.
If you use “dodgerblue” today, you might notice that it doesn’t quite match the team’s uniforms. That’s probably because the monitors Raveling was working with in 1989 don’t display colors the same way as modern screens do, he said.
“I’m not sure what Dodger blue looks like right now,” he said. “The color tuning was done on HP monitors and the colors turned out very good then. The catch is that since then, monitors seemed to have standardized on different gamma corrections.”
Raveling was very familiar with Dodger blue when he was working on color display. He and his wife had season tickets and loved going to games early to watch batting practice and hang out with loyal fans such as Betty Chatwood, better known as Dodger Mom.
Unfortunately, he didn’t make it to Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, although his wife was in attendance.
“I missed the famous final home run by Kirk Gibson,” Raveling said. “For that particular game, I was at a reunion meeting of the UCLA computer club. … It was a good reunion and we had a lot to catch up on, but I wish I could have seen that home run live.”