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Pixel Basics

Although a pixel can be measured as the diameter of the microscopic point on a screen which emits (or reflects) light, the term is not typically used for measurement. Unlike inches, Centimeter, Miles or Kilometers, "Pixel" is intended to convey the abstract location of a point. Think of "pixel" more as a point on a map or map coorditate. If you point to street intersection on a city map, your intention is not to measure the width of the street at that point but rather to convey a location. The actual pin-point of the intersection is infinitely small and of no value to someone giving or receiving driving directions.

So it is with Pixels. We're less interested in the size of a point of light than we are in how many such points there are on a device, how they are arranged and how well they can render a photo or some text for us to look at.

Below is a simplistic example. Imagine the graphic below is an stone-age computer monitor of extremely poor resolution. In fact, this sample has only 49 pixels in total. That's thousands or millions less than almost any modern device but useful as a conceptual tool. For example, like any modern screen, our low-res gizmo is arranged as a matrix of points. It has seven rows of pixels and each row has seven columns. That means the resolution is 7 X 7 or 49 total pixels. Even so, using row and column information we can "light up" any of the 49 pixels on demand - Try it! Choose a row and column to illuminate

Row: Column:
By tinkering with various coordinates, you can see how it would be possible to create some patterns or symbols by selectively lighting groups of pixels. To save you some time, we've programmed our little gadget to display the Vowels from the alphabet. Just click on them to view the output.
A  E  I  O  U 
To further demonstrate that the pixel in and of itself doesn't indicate size, try this control. It will change the size of the gizmo drastically but there will still be only 7 rows of 7 columns or 49 pixels total.

Physical Size Large Small

You may think you don't know what a pixel is, but, If you've ever seen a card stunt at a sports event, you probably do! A pixel is simply the individual point of color on a digital image. A pixel doesn't have a particular size. It is an abstract represention of a specific coordinate, like a point on a map. Just as individual sports fans hold up a colored card in the stadium, individual pixels light up on your display to form a pattern. The only difference is the size of the point when it is displayed.

go cowboys