[Tom] [Colophon] [Manual Control]

What is a Screensaver?


Well, originally, screensavers were meant to save screens. Usually uninteresting, screensavers would blank out or otherwise vary what was on a screen to avoid a dreadful thing called screen burn-in. Screen burn-in was an unfortunate event that caused things that stayed on your screen too long to actually burn into the screen, which was in a way kinda nice because you could turn a screen off and still read it without electricity!

Then when "high" resolution color screens gained popularity, some possible habitual drug users in Berkeley extended screensavers to make neat designs on your screen. Although these newer "high" resolution screens hardware no longer supported burn-in, people bought these new screensavers like hot cakes. Brian Eno came out of the closet to admit that screensavers were the only computer programs that he used. He spent his time applying treatments to the screensaver with the attempt of making it continually change in random, but still neat ways.

This is roughly the time when I got into trouble with screensavers. I acquired a copy of the Berkeley screensaver and used its' collage and random functions to turn my computer screen into an endless cartoon. I spent hours at the office just staring at the screen. Of course, since my screen was "saved" from my touch, I couldn't get any work done.

Before I was fired I made a discovery. I could take a piece of software called Deskview (I spelled it wrong on purpose) and run Windows 3.0 in real mode and run the screen saver in a Deskview window. I could then work in un-saved windows while watching the screen saver in another. For that short period of time, I was in bliss.

But it did not come free. The configuration I had to maintain on my 386 computer soon took its' toll. I was spending two or three hours a day working on my Deskview/DOS/Windows config, just to keep it all running well enough to go an hour between crashes.

I went in to seclusion. Days, months, years went by. But I knew I wasn't alone. There must be others with my same affliction, people waiting for a screensaver, not for their screen, but for themselves.

Finally my salvation arrived. Off the net web technologies allowed me a hint at salvation. I knew what I had to do. I had to create a screensaver that would run in a window and then distribute it to the world.

I could make the world a slightly better place.




[Tom] [Colophon]