We’ve all seen this photo countless times. In fact, the iconic Window’s XP “Bliss” wallpaper is considered to be the most viewed photo ever taken. But what’s the story behind it?
The image was taken around 1998, on the Napa-Sonoma county line by photographer Charles “Chuck” O’Rear. Contrary to popular belief, the picture was not photoshopped, although later on Microsoft admitted darkening the green hill a bit.
“It was a Friday in January, after a storm, the grass was green, and I thought ‘Oh my god! Look at that scene!” O’Rear said, then paused and turned to his wife who told him to take the picture. “So, if it wasn’t for Daphne, I wouldn’t have that photo. How much better can the story be?” (the story continues after the ad)
But it does get better.
O’Rear went on and uploaded the photo in a Stock Photo Library, which was actually owned by Bill Gates. In the summer of 2001, the phone rang. It was Microsoft. They were searching for a photo that would best illustrate their new operating system, Windows XP. Out of the thousands of photos in the stock library, they had chosen O’Rear’s green hillside.
But there was just one more problem. Microsoft paid O’Rear an amount in the low six figures to get the rights for the photo. Because of its value, the cost of insuring it was so high that even Fed Ex wouldn’t touch it!
So, the software giant ended up paying a plane ticket so O’Rear could deliver the original photo at their offices in Seattle.
Even to this day, the success of the photo still leaves its creator a little mystified. It’s nice, he said, but “Who would want it hanging on their wall?”