Here it is…the most viewed picture of all time:

(Photo by Mack / Townsquare Media)

The photograph is called "Bliss" and it was the default image featured on the Desktop for all computers running Windows XP.  It's been loaded onto over 400 million computers and viewed by over a billion people…probably more like billions of people.  The scene is from Napa Valley, California and was taken by Chuck O'Rear on a Friday afternoon in 1996.

The picture has been cropped slightly but what I found surprising is that it's unaltered.  No Photoshop.  No color enhancement.  No digital manipulation.

Chuck won't say how much he was paid for the picture.  But according to cnet: "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."  That made me wonder.  I seem to remember a story about People magazine paying $3-4 million for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's baby.  But, that was multiple pictures.  Another rumor I'd heard was that the famous picture of Bill Clinton hugging Monica Lewinsky had been sold to Time magazine for around $150,000.  My guess is, it's somewhere closer to that figure rather than millions.  Still, not bad money for just pulling off to the side of the road and snapping a picture.

Here's an interview with Chuck and the full story of "Bliss"