What happened to the ScreenSaver?

Oh the joy of navigating a Starfield, the adventuring through a maze with the rat, flipping rock and it’s dead ends, only to find a trophy and begin all over again. What happened to all the cool ScreenSavers?


I remember my Elementary school and the computer lab had these amazing distracting images of scenes that would flicker ALL day long until school was over and the teacher shut them down for the night, only to start them up again the next school day.

What has changed? Technology that’s what changed. Let’s start with the reason screensavers existed before.


Back in the day, computers used to rely on big, wasteful clunky CRT Cathode Ray Tube monitors to display information from your PC. These monsters not only took up a long time to power on but would suffer “Burn in” from a static image such as your taskbar, Windows logo, or a window icon on your desktop which could “freeze” a shadow on your CRT monitor and leave a ghost impression. This only happened if you left your monitor on too long. Today’s LCD and LED screens don’t suffer from that, maybe stuck or dead pixels, but not an entire image ghosted in your screen while you did some work!

Granted you needed a LONG time to burn in an image on your screen, I still remember that only school computers did this because my CRT was new enough to afford a Sleep feature to turn off automatically and refresh whenever it needed to avoid this. However, before technology could step in and save the day, how would we come up with a Screen Saving feature? A workaround that could prevent Burn in?

In comes the Screen Saver. Developed with the intention to blank out your screen after a certain period of time, or display other cool and fun images / moving pixels, this feature could prevent the same image being stuck on your screen while keeping you and your computer entertained. I mean, would YOU want a boring black background, or cool stars flying through your space on your desktop? I think the choice is obvious. So now we know why screen savers existed and why they were so darn cool.

After a while, they got real interesting such as 3d mazes and cool art, even live data from the internet would function as a screensaver. Imagine having current stocks displayed on your screen while your computer sat “unused”. It was grand technology indeed.

So what killed it?

PG and E and SMUD. haha no just kidding. As computers become more widespread and common in households, it made no sense to leave so much power on doing nothing. Technology finally fixed the temporary screen saving solution with power saving monitors, LED/LCD screen and quick sleep features for your desktop. The screen saver withered away as a novelty of the past as it was no longer “NEEDED”. Like an uncle who used to pay rent but now you’d rather have an extra room than to make a few extra bucks. I’m looking at you Jose…

Today the screensaver exists solely as a means to relay information, keep uniform looks on desktops and has overall been replaced with e black screen of nothing. Representing the efficient power saving future. Boring.

But that doesn’t mean you can spice up your computer, far from it. Most of the old fun screen-savers continue to function in Windows 10 and feel free to download them here just for that bit of 90’s kid nostalgia. All the following as safe, as I’ve tried them out, but beware as always.

https://www.screensaversplanet.com/screensavers/3d-maze-461/ (classic)
https://www.screensaversplanet.com/screensavers/another-matrix-210/ (I used this one on my Linux Machine for a long time)
https://www.screensaversplanet.com/screensavers/fireplace-336/ (a lot of techs liked this one)
http://tringi.trimcore.cz/Starfield_Screensaver?language=en (an updated version of the classic star field)

More details on the screen saver


About Zerin

But can you show me the source code?

Posted on June 2, 2016, in Computers and Internet. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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