The image for the most popular Windows wallpaper ever was taken 20 years ago today

20 years ago today, a photographer named Charles O'Rear took a picture in the wine country northern California that later became the default wallpaper for Windows XP, and the most popular Windows wallpaper ever.

Microsoft marked the anniversary of that picture being taken with a post on its official Windows Twitter page today:

CNET posted an interesting article about the history of that photo a couple of years ago. O'Rear took that image in 1996 using a Mamiya RZ67 film camera. The photo itself was given the name "Bliss". Later, he submitted it to the stock photo service Corbis, which happened to be founded by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates:

Bliss was purchased by Microsoft for an undisclosed sum. While Chuck can't reveal how much he was paid due to a non-disclosure agreement, it was one of the largest amounts ever paid for a single photograph. He still doesn't know how Microsoft found the photo, whether through keywords or by typing in phrases like "rolling green hills".

John Callaham