Remember 'Flying Toasters'? A Journey Through Screensavers Past

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Until this moment, I had completely forgotten about Flying Toasters. And Flying Windows. And, for that matter, the entire After Dark collection of cheesetastic mid-90s screensavers PC-based performance art.

Thankfully, the Internet was there to remind me. Mental Floss's Chris Higgins has gathered a collection of ten of the most pixellatedly wondrous screensavers from the era when screens were so fragile that they needed to be saved. He has done this so that you may reminisce, and contemplate the passage of time, and otherwise mystify your mind.

Here are the Flying Toasters:

And here is the ever-existential Starry Night:

And here are some -- oh, YES -- 3D Pipes:

It's crazy how familiar, still, all these images and movements are. And it's crazy as well how easily I had forgotten about them once they were replaced by something better. Which is to say, by something more personalized. Higgins's collection is a good reminder that once -- for a weird, wonderful moment -- an idle computer screen led to an inevitable, and nearly universal, sight: a flock of appliances, cheery and absurd, flapping their way through the darkness.


Images via Microsoft, Mental Floss, and joy; link via Philip Bump.

Presented by

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

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