Windows 3.1 Screensavers, Now On Twitter

Back in the early dawn of the GUI age, cathode ray tubes were the dominant display technology for the personal computer. In order to avoid burn-in of static display elements, screensavers were devised to help prevent this problem. Out of love for the software of yesteryear, [Greg Kennedy] has put together a bot that posts Windows 3.1 screensavers on Twitter.

A Perl script runs the show in this case. Screensavers are packed into “units”, which are loaded by the script. A basic Windows 3.1 environment is then configured, and loaded into a specially patched DOSBOX that allows automated demo recording in a headless environment. Once up and running, video is recorded of the desktop and subsequent triggering of the screensaver. After a couple of minutes, the recording is stopped, and FFMPEG is used to transcode the video into a Twitter-suitable format. It’s then a simple job of Tweeting the video using the standard API.

It’s a fun project that makes sharing old screensavers easy. Be sure to check out the Twitter feed @dot_scr. If you’re addicted to the vintage aesthetic, try this Apple ][ screensaver hack on your Linux boxen. Video after the break.

14 thoughts on “Windows 3.1 Screensavers, Now On Twitter

    1. Xscreensaver is/was the best b/c it was an open platform, inviting you to contribute your own graphics hacks. It was half demoscene, half screensaver.

      I clicked on the video for “attraction”, one of my old faves. It was just as good as I remembered it, but that soundtrack is the real deal.

  1. Screensavers were born of compact Mac users and their B&W P4 phosphor CRTs which burned-in quickly. Old MacOS versions had no provision for blanking the display on inactivity nor did the hardware have any ‘energy saver’ to cut power to the CRT. While it’s possible to burn-in a color CRT, it takes waaaaay longer than a P4 B&W CRT.
    On color systems, I think it’s safe to say screensavers existed simply because people liked them.

  2. lcd is completely immune to burn in however they can suffer stuck pixels where it looks like burn in mostly found on older lcd displays like the power book 100 series from the 80s and 90s.

    and even with crt displays the life span of the modern crt display is so short that the monitor dies of xray protection shutdown or even wont power on at all long before the tube burns in

    you have to get plasma tv in order have the risk of burn in

    my experience: i had a crt monitor before 2011 and what doomed it eventually was it’s incompatibility with my mac the mac scanned too fast for the display to work but up to before then it was a failing power supply where i suspect the voltage was running too high and the xray protection would shut down the display so i had to turn it off and back on a few times in a row to get it to sttay on.

    1. “lcd is completely immune to burn in”.

      technically you are correct, but the laminated polarized screens do have that problem. I once got a big lcd screen used to display the waiting time of r a cue at a exhibition, and if i put a simple gray screen on, I could read the text and see the images, albeit reversed.

  3. Under Ware had a Macintosh screensaver package. The free version had a limited selection of modules. The paid version came with more. Under Ware screensaver was supposed to be able to run After Dark modules, but it must have only been compatible with AD’s earliest version. I never found any AD modules that would work with UW. Nor could I come up with a first release of AD to see if UW modules worked with it.

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