The story behind the Windows XP wallpaper “Bliss”

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Every so often, I like to take a break from the “How to” computer tips and the lectures about backing up your computer (you should do that now if you haven’t already, you know!).  Sometimes it’s fun to just learn something you didn’t know before.  Today’s the day.

bliss wallpaper

Take a look at that image.  Does it look familiar?  It should – it’s the default wallpaper that comes with Windows XP (back when computers were being sold with Windows XP anyway).  It is one of the most famous wallpaper images ever.  The actual name for it is “Bliss”, and if you do a Google Image search for “bliss”, this is the first thing that comes up.

It is not named “Bliss” everywhere, though – for Dutch people that use Windows XP, the image is named “Ireland”, so many users assume that is where the picture was taken.  Not true.  Other people assume that because the image is so perfect and clear, it must be just a Photoshop digital creation that doesn’t really exist.  Also not true.  This image is an actual place.

The photo was taken in the year 1996, quite some time before Windows XP was even released.  The location is Sonoma County, California.

Since that picture was shot, the appearance of the location has changed somewhat.  It was afterward converted into a vineyard.  Here is a picture of the same location, 10 years after the first shot:

bliss wallpaper

Not quite so “blissful” as it once was!

The photographer was Charles O’Rear, and he has claimed that the original photo was not “doctored” or digitally enhanced at all.  And he was paid very well for it, although he legally cannot reveal the dollar amount.

And that, as the late Paul Harvey would say, is the rest of the story.

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Ken Leathermann
September 12th, 2011


Your right! It’s always a pleasure to learn something new. The joy of
learning should always be a lifetime goal for each of us.

As early as I can remember I have always wanted to learn about things.
Many times the knowledge I gained wasn’t for a particular purpose, but
just to satisfy my thirst for new knowledge.

Many times when driving I will see a building or a truck hauling cargo
and I say to my self “Wouldn’t it be great to know what those crates
or buildings hold”. New Knowledge I love it.

Thanks for a great reminder about learning something new.