A screensaver retrospective
Turn back the clock to about a decade ago, and the
was THE standard piece of software on any computer. This wasn’t because they helped PC performance – if anything, they wasted memory space. The real reason they were an accessory every PC couldn’t go without was because of our
Cathode Ray Tube
(CRT) monitors. These CRT screens were the standard display used by millions of computers worldwide. However, they suffered from the threat of "
." For the uninitiated, burn-in was when an image remained on the screen for too long and caused a phosphor compound that would leave a ghostly etching of the image permanently on the screen.
For a gallery of our 20 favorite screensavers, scroll to the bottom of the page!
Enter the screensaver, a clever piece of software that would automatically start up when a computer was left idle for a certain amount of time. Living up to its name, this was a clever little program that came to be the savior of monitors everywhere. The first ever screensaver was just a
, but that all changed in 1989 when the
was developed and freely distributed among almost all PC users worldwide. Its incredible popularity soon gave birth to a new genre of programs, led by Macintosh’s
(quickly ported across to the PC). Soon idle computers in offices across the world were displaying
and all sorts of visual oddities.
The 1990s were the boom period for computing. You could find a computer in offices, schools and homes everywhere. More computers meant more screensavers, with hundreds of developers releasing all manner of monitor saving applications. Companies soon clicked onto the branding and free advertising possibilities, with films, cars and sports screensavers proving to be particularly popular. You couldn’t avoid screensavers then; they were as pervasive as could be.
However, that was then, and nowadays CRT monitors are yesterday’s technology. In fact, you would be hard pressed to even find a CRT monitor for sale these days. With the advancement of the LCD (
Liquid Crystal Display
) and other monitors, displays that no longer suffer from burn-in, the humble screensaver has largely become obsolete. Of course, Microsoft still bundles screensavers with its modern Windows releases (with 3D Text, Bubbles, etc.), but they are just an optional extra.
While the industry is not as large as it used to be, there are still plenty of reasons to open the digital door to screensavers again. Granted, the majority of today’s free screensavers you find on the Internet are aimed at children, but delve a little deeper and you can find some crackers out there. Just have a look at what you’re missing out on in our free Screensaver gallery below and let us know what your favorites are!
Note: You are welcome to check out the third-party download links for these screensaver programs below, but it's a good idea to use
to check if these programs contain any adware.
Blue Screen of Death: The bane of PC owners' life for decades, this is a practical joke that can be played on the unwary, or, for the sadomasochists among you, serve as a constant reminder that the dreaded BSOD can occur at any time.