Whatever happened to …

… screen savers?

Inspiration this time comes from Alfred Thompson.

That’s a really good question, Alfred.

I know that I don’t.

… at least now.

But there was a time, for sure.

Now, when you get a new computer or install a new operating system, there are “Top 10” lists of things to do after installation.  Today, it’s things like “install an antivirus program” or “install a better browser”.

But there was a time when one of the first things you did was install a screen saver.   The word was that if you left your computer left on for a long period of time, it would burn the image into the computer screen.  I actually saw that once.

A long time ago, my father had a second job at a feed mill and the mixture going into the feed was computerized.  He was showing me how they would control the amount of this or that that goes into a particular order.  It was on this nice amber coloured screen.  Neat.  I then asked him if he could tell me how much feed that they had made on a particular day.  He took me to a different screen to show that information.  It was interesting but I could see the image from the previous screen which was the default, since it was turned on 24/7.  It really had burned in.

So, I was sold.  I didn’t want that to happen on any screen that I had purchased.  My hard earned money, after all.  My screen quickly became this fishtank of various colours and sizes of fish and seaweed.  Hands up if you remember that one.  I really got into this and actually purchased a “bonus pack” like this one that had additional screen savers for my computer.


In our little office, there were five support people who just had to have their own screen savers.  It became a status symbol to have something really interesting displayed on their screens.  However, the fact that it meant they weren’t actually using their computer in order for the screen saver to kick in, seemed to go missing.

I recall a programming assignment that I gave my Grade 12 students  – they had to write their own.  There’s actually a whole lot that goes into the design besides cute looking fish.  There had to be a way to measure inactivity to kick the screensaver into action.  When you’re debugging, the “time to go” was something like five seconds.

Later, as a consultant, I was out of the office far more than I was in and so I dumped the fish and went for a scrolling message indicating where I was and when I expected to be back.  There was also an option to require my password to get back in which was wonderful and I had this feeling my information was safe.  Windows XP always took so long to load from scratch.  Sure, you could be better to the environment and put the computer to sleep but that didn’t have the same effect.  Humbly, I’m quick to note that this technique was quickly copied by others.k

These days, I don’t use one.  I don’t have a CRT screen – that was the major victim of burn-in.  The panels that we use on computers these days use a different sort of technology and I always thought that they were immune.  And, probably it’s not an issue since I don’t have an image on day in and day out.  But, you do have to wonder about screens that you might see at an airport where they never get turned off.  An interesting read can be found here.

For yuks, I thought I’d see what a screensaver looks like these days.  It’s a matter of going to your control centre or whatever your operating system calls it and look for it.  You’ll remember, of course, that modern operating systems all come with one and have various actions that your chosen screen saver can do while it’s active.

Linux Mint


Macintosh OS


Windows 10


Chrome OS


Now, I’ve been called old school and this probably confirms it.  These days, I’m sure that people just fire up a YouTube video.  Here’s 60 minutes to save your screen (and get some relaxation.  Make sure you go full screen with it.)

So, for this Sunday morning, what are your thoughts about screen savers?  Please share them via comment below.

  • Do you currently have a screen saver enabled on your computer?
  • Do you have a favourite screen saver that you used in the past?
  • Have you ever had screen saver envy as you passed another person’s computer?

I sure would like to hear your thoughts.

If you have an idea, like Alfred, for a future post in this series, please drop it off at this Padlet.  I enjoy writing these posts; I hope you enjoy reading them.  They can all be accessed here.

2 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Doug, I love how you think so deeply about things I have barely contemplated before. Reading your post, I realized that it’s only at school that I have a screensaver on our computer. It’s the flying boxes. I kind of love them. They’re very hypnotic (almost calming) to watch. I’m curious to know if others have a favourite screensaver as well.


    Liked by 1 person

Please share your thoughts here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.