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The “rainbow series” is a number of books and manuals with differently colored covers. One of the most common references to the rainbow series refers to a set of security manuals put out by the U.S. Department of Defense National Computer Security Council, where books had many different-colored and brightly colored covers.
In addition to the NCSC rainbow series, which covered aspects of computer security and security protocol, other sets of books have also been called a “rainbow series.” For example, there is the series of books involved in documenting standard references for PostScript, a page description language developed in the 1970s, which included a red book, green book, blue book and white book.
The general idea is that a series of manuals developed with distinctive colored covers is referred to in shorthand by their colors, and the entire series is referred to as a rainbow or “crayola” series – even in the digital age, print manuals and instructions books can be critically important, and part of what someone might call a “programmer’s bible” or other handy reference.