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The Color of B1000D

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Red is a primary color, one of three. Coloratus in Latin means “colored” but also means red. It is a primordial color, despite being commonly found in flowers. The color of blood.

So it is curious that as The Animation Works tweeted yesterday, if you type in the kid-with-a-calculator style spelling of “b1000d” with the extra zero for the hexcode format, you get a bright red color.


Tweets started by The Animation Works, myself (@FlyingTrilobite) and Scientific American's Design Director, Michael Mrak.

Click this image to go to to type your own in and try it.

Yet my searching for this origin has turned up fruitless. My Google-fu has failed me. In a system where #000000 is black and #ffffff is white, is #b1000d just a coincidence? With all the possible combinations of 6 letters and numbers that could look like words, is it just a statistical probability one of them would describe a color? Wouldn’t a blood-color be slightly darker?

It doesn’t add up. Here’s a partial list on WikiHow, and very few of them have a corresponding color. This feels built in to the system.

Hexcode #b1000d


Note: throughout this post it was incredibly hard for me to remain consistent on the American spelling “color”. Uuuugh.

Glendon Mellow About the Author: Glendon Mellow is a fine artist, illustrator and tattoo designer working in oil and digital media based in Toronto, Canada. He tweets @FlyingTrilobite and is on Instagram. You can see Glendon's work-in-progress at The Flying Trilobite blog and portfolio at Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. 2:35 pm 07/30/2013

    how in the world did you come across this, Glendon!?!

    Link to this
  2. 2. Glendon Mellow 5:08 pm 07/30/2013

    Hey Kalliopi; in the tweet above from Animation Works! Interestingly and totally not surprisingly, Google searches for “b1000d” turn up some teenage gothy vampire luvin’ art.

    Link to this
  3. 3. Mark Robinson 12:23 am 07/31/2013

    I’m pretty sure this is just happenstance. In the 24-bit RGB colour model, the three primary colours – red, green, blue – are each represented by a single byte, with 00 being the lowest intensity (no colour) and FF hexadecimal (= 255 decimal) representing maximum saturation. b1000d is simply R=b1, G=00, B=0d

    It therefore follows that b1 (= 177 – lots of red), 00 (no green), 0d (= 13 – hardly any blue) is going to be a red that is darker than bright red (FF0000) with a tiny hint of purple due to the 0d blue.

    Link to this
  4. 4. brianprince 7:58 pm 08/8/2013

    Mark is correct, this is just a coincidence based on how hex color codes work (it’s not a system you could hide an easter egg within, since it’s literally just three numbers represented in hexadecimal).

    It’s a neat trick though :)

    Link to this
  5. 5. Glendon Mellow 9:09 pm 08/9/2013

    Mark, Brian, I hear what you two are saying. Totes.

    But what if it was one of the starting points for coding the whole 6-digit system? Like, dark and light are covered. But it needed a starting point for one of the rainbow spectral colours, and someone decided to start there?

    And obviously the coder was goth.

    Link to this

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