My earliest memory of encountering the websafe color palette is Photoshop 4, which was one of the first pieces of commercial-grade software I had access to. Before that I had dabbled in other tools that were functional ripoffs of Photoshop, but I knew Photoshop was the real deal and did everything I could to get my hands on it.
My interest in Photoshop stemmed mainly from my desire to make GIFs and avatar skins for my Quake clan. Learning how to properly export images with the right palette was an exercise in trial and error. I remember staring at that grid of neon in disbelief, thinking it couldn’t possibly have enough colors to save my images properly. I still feel that way.
Occasionally my Quake skin would arrive in-game nightmarishly inverted—instead of the customary red and brown sludge of armor and muscle, my polygons wound up wrapped in carpet of neon pink and green. It’s too bad I never saved those.
When I did manage to export a GIF successfully, it’d often lose a disappointing amount of information.
The countless hours I put into optimizing for Websafe turned out to be a pretty good investment as I’d later pick up an internship at a design firm pushing pixels and slinging HTML for $14 an hour.