Screensavers have long been a part of Windows, but they don’t play such a big role nowadays. Once an important feature to help prevent screen burn on CRT monitors, screensavers are mostly used now to look pretty.
Let’s take a look at how screensavers came to be, remember some famous examples, and discuss whether it’s still worth using one in this day and age, considering the power usage implications.
Don’t forget to head into the comments section afterwards to let us know your screensaver memories and whether you still use one.
Screensavers originally came into existence to solve the problem of screen burn that affected CRT monitors. Screen burn is what occurred if the screen displayed the same image for a long period of time. Simply put, the phosphors that light the screen would begin to lose their power, making their output uneven and causing parts of the screen to appear darker. This unbalanced light output could then cause a previous display to appear faded on the screen.
In some severe causes the screen burn would even appear when the monitor was turned off. It commonly happened from static or consistent screen elements, like the Windows taskbar on a computer monitor or a news ticker on a TV.
The screensaver was invented to do just as the name suggests: save the screen from burn. After a certain period of computer inactivity, a screensaver would kick in and display something else, often animated, in order to ensure that no single element was stuck in the same position on the screen for a long period of time.
Screen burn can still happen in modern LCD displays, albeit not technically in the same way, but it’s rare and not nearly as common as it was on CRTs.
The Internet’s take-off made the number of screensavers available to everyone sky-rocket, but there are some screensavers that have stood the test of time and are still memorable to this day.
It’s pretty easy to figure out what the Flying Toasters screensaver was – toasters with wings flying through the air alongside slices of toast. This was one of the many screensavers that came included in a screensaver software package called After Dark. It had multiple versions, expanding to include things like music and bagels, and even had merchandise.
Check out this Flying Toasters recreation website if you want to experience the wonders of this screensaver in the modern day!
Johnny Castaway was a pretty unique screensaver because it didn’t just show you the same thing every time it appeared. Developed by Sierra, it showed a man stranded on an island and all the antics that he got up to. Making a sand castle, mingling with mermaids, building a raft and more. The screensaver would even react to special holidays, like showing a Christmas tree on the island.
The screensaver told a story, but events would show in a random order, with some moments rarely being seen. In fact, it led to people online discussing what they’d seen Johnny do and slowly piecing together the story. However, times have changed and some entrepreneurial person has compiled the screensaver into one video. Check it out above!
Using Screensavers Today
Although screensavers may not still serve their initial purpose, they are still a feature of Windows. The average consumer wasn’t aware of screen burn, so the entertainment value of screensavers is still something that stands up for some people today.
If you want to use one, do a system search for change screen saver and select the relevant result. In Screen Saver Settings, pick a screensaver from the dropdown menu, and set how much time should pass before it kicks in.
Some modern day screensavers have use beyond what would have been possible in their inception. For example, the World Community Grid has software that will use idle computer processing power to help towards scientific research, with an accompanying screensaver to give an overview of what is being analysed. Other uses include displaying news feeds, system information, and management announcements in business.
Should You Use a Screensaver?
There’s no definitive answer as to whether or not you should use a screensaver. If you find them fun or informative, by all means do. However, there’s a consideration you need to make about their power consumption.
Keeping the screen active will use more energy than having the screen blank or turned off. This may not be much of a concern if you’re on a desktop, but laptop users should strongly consider not using a screensaver as it’ll drain the battery.
Do a system search for change power-saving settings and select the relevant result. This will open a window that will allow you to determine, amongst other settings, when to turn off the display. If you’re looking to save energy or battery power (or both) then consider just having the display turn itself off rather than display a screensaver.
Do You Screensave?
Screensavers may not be as popular as they once were, but there’s definitely still a place for them on computers – even if it’s just to show slideshow pictures on an idle screen!
A word of warning, however. If you’re out looking for new screensavers, be careful where you download them from as it isn’t uncommon for malware and other threats to be bundled in with them.
Do you have any screensaver memories to share? Do you still use a screensaver?
Image Credits: Running CHKDSK on a 9 year old PC by Daniel Oines [Broken Link Removed], licensed under CC BY 2.0