This classic Windows background has a Missouri connection

If you’ve ever owned or used a Microsoft Windows computer running the Windows XP operating system, there’s a good chance that at some point, this was your desktop’s background.

It’s titled “Bliss” because, well just look at it. But where exactly is “Bliss” hill? And who took the iconic picture?

As it so happens, it was taken by Missouri native Charles O’Rear.

In the mid-’90s, O’Rear would drive through Sonoma, California to go see his girlfriend at the time.

On one of those trips, he pulled over on Highway 12, right in the heart of wine country, and took a photo of the hill.

Now O’Rear has been a photographer for the Kansas City Star, the LA Times, and National Geographic. Yet, at the time that he took this photo, O’Rear had recently co-founded a stock image website, where he uploaded the photo.

Later on, after his website had been bought out by another stock image provider, Microsoft bought the complete rights to his snapshot, and it became the face of a $1 billion dollar marketing campaign for the Windows XP operating system.