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After Dark (software)

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After Dark
Original author(s)Jack Eastman[1]
Patrick Beard
Developer(s)Berkeley Systems
Initial release1989; 35 years ago (1989)
Stable release
4.0 / 1996; 28 years ago (1996)
Written inassembly language, C
Operating systemApple Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, DOS[2]
Websiteen.infinisys.co.jp/product/adx/ Edit this on Wikidata

After Dark is a series of computer screensaver software introduced by Berkeley Systems in 1989 for the Apple Macintosh, and in 1991 for Microsoft Windows.[3][4]

Following the original, additional editions included More After Dark, Before Dark, and editions themed around licensed properties such as Star Trek, The Simpsons, Looney Tunes, Marvel, and Disney characters.[4]

On top of the included animated screensavers, the program allowed for the development and use of third-party modules, many hundreds of which were created at the height of its popularity.[5]

Flying Toasters

An After Dark CD-ROM

The most famous of the included screensaver modules is the iconic Flying Toasters, which featured 1940s-style chrome toasters sporting bird-like wings, flying across the screen with pieces of toast. Engineer Jack Eastman claims he came up with the display after seeing a toaster in the kitchen during a late-night programming session and imagining the addition of wings, although the winged toasters bear a strong resemblance to those on the cover of Jefferson Airplane’s 1973 album Thirty Seconds Over Winterland.[6] A slider in the Flying Toasters module enabled users to adjust the toast's darkness, and an updated Flying Toasters Pro module added a choice of music—Richard Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries or a flying toaster anthem with optional karaoke lyrics.[7] Yet another version called Flying Toasters! added bagels and pastries, baby toasters, and more elaborate toaster animation. The Flying Toasters were one of the key reasons that After Dark became popular, and Berkeley began to produce other merchandising products such as T-shirts with the Flying Toaster image and slogans such as "The 51st Flying Toaster Squadron: On a mission to save your screen!"

The toasters were the subject of two lawsuits, the first in 1993, Berkeley Systems vs Delrina Corporation, over a module of Delrina's Opus 'N Bill screensaver in which Opus the penguin shoots down the toasters.[8] After a U.S. District judge ruled that Delrina's "Death Toasters" was infringing, Delrina later changed the wings of the toasters to propellers.[8] The second case was brought in 1994 by 1960s rock group Jefferson Airplane who claimed that the toasters were a copy of the winged toasters featured on the cover of their 1973 album Thirty Seconds Over Winterland.[9] The case was dismissed because the cover art had not been registered as a trademark by the group prior to Berkeley Systems' release of the screensaver.[6]

A 3D version of the toasters featuring swarms of toasters with airplane wings, rather than bird wings, is available for XScreenSaver.



In 1997, Berkeley Systems was acquired by the Sierra On-Line division of CUC International.[10] Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, the founders of Berkeley Systems, went on to create MoveOn.org. Ed Fries, co-developer of the popular Fish! screensaver, became vice president of game publishing at Microsoft.

The Bad Dog (TV series) based on the "Bad Dog" screensaver[11] was produced by CinéGroupe and Saban Entertainment for the Teletoon and Fox Family Channel networks that first aired on Teletoon on March 1, 1999.

An official version of After Dark was released for Mac OS X running on PowerPC by Infinisys, Ltd. of Japan in May 2003.[12] For Apple silicon and Intel Macs, remakes of three popular modules — Flying Toasters, Mowing Man and Boris — are being sold as standalone screensavers.[13]

Sierra released a Flying Toaster video game for cell phones in 2006.[14]

Sierra Entertainment was eventually acquired by Vivendi Games, which in turn was merged with Activision to form Activision Blizzard, and later acquired by Microsoft.

After Dark Games


Sierra Attractions and Berkeley Systems released After Dark Games in 1998 for the Macintosh and Windows platforms, which contained several games modeled after their previously released screensavers.[15][16] These games included Mowin' Maniac (a Pac-Man clone based on the Mowin' Man and Mowin' Boris modules); Roof Rats (similar to SameGame and variants); Solitaire (After Dark themed); Toaster Run (an isometric Glider clone featuring several After Dark characters, including a Flying Toaster and Super Guy); Zapper (a trivia game); Hula Girl (an endless 2D platforming game based on the Hula Twins module from After Dark 4.0); two word scramble games — Bad Dog 911 (based on the Bad Dog modules) and Fish Shtick (based on the Fish modules, mainly Fish World); Foggy Boxes (a dots and boxes game based on the Messages 4.0 module); MooShu Tiles (a Mahjong-like game featuring many After Dark characters throughout the years); and Rodger Dodger (a Raimais clone that originated as an in-module game).[17]

J.C. Herz of The New York Times wrote that the "sheer simplicity" of these games helped make them as "engaging and addictive as the mega-selling 40-hour sagas with souped-up 3-D sound and state-of-the-art computer graphics."[18] A review in Computer Gaming World stated that, "If nothing else, it makes for a good time-killer."[19]


Module Name Description
Starry Night The original After Dark screen saver, featuring a pixelated city skyline under a night sky
Artist A digital artist applies artistic touches to images in a slow manner so one can see the artist's work
Bad Dog Popular module featuring a white dog with a black ring around one of his eyes, causing trouble on the desktop (the animated series Bad Dog was inspired by the eponymous screensaver)[20]
Bad Dog! A sequel to Bad Dog with new animations and sequences
Bogglins Green slime creatures are formed and make obnoxious noises
Boris The opposite of Bad Dog, a good cat plays on the desktop and chases butterflies
Bouncing Ball A ball bounces around the screen, including bouncing off the edges
Bugs Digital bugs crawl across the screen
Bulge Expands portions of the screen, making the screen appear to have a "bulge"
Bungee Roulette[i] Various characters bungee-jump from the top of the screen, but occasionally the bungee cord breaks
Can of Worms "Worms" emerge from the screen, crawl around, and "eat" the screen content
Chameleon[i] Chameleons walk across the screen, changing colors and eating icons
Clocks Different objects appear as a clock and move around
Coming Soon![i] A salesperson pitches fictitious "products"
Confetti Factory Confetti falls from the top of the screen and onto conveyor belts below
Daredevil Dan A daredevil motorcyclist attempts dangerous jumps over school buses, flames, and piranha tanks
Dominoes A game of dominoes is played on the screen
Doodles Draws doodle-like images
DOS Shell A mock DOS shell is run on the screen, reliving earlier days of computing
Dots A game of "dots" is played on the screen
Down the Drain The desktop appears to spiral down a drain
Einstein Complex mathematical and scientific equations are performed on the screen
Fade Away The desktop fades away in different ways
Fish! (Aquatic Realm) Underwater world of fish with a black background
Fish Pro An updated version of Fish!
Fish World The third iteration of Fish! with prerendered 3D models
Floating Suns[ii] Displays the Phoenix Suns basketball team's logos floating around the screen
Flocks Displays flocks of various creatures on the screen
Flying Toasters Classic module featuring flying toasters
Flying Toasters Pro Updated version that allows one to select more than flying toasters and also has music
Flying Toasters! 4.0 iteration of the flying toasters with updated graphics and music — introduces baby toasters
Flying Toilets[i] Parody of Flying Toasters with toilets replacing the toasters
Fractal Forest A forest of trees is generated on the screen
FrankenScreen[i] A digital Frankenstein creates creatures out of various parts
Frost and Fire Produces patterns similar to splattering paint on paper
GeoBounce A geometrical figure bounces around the screen
Globe Takes an image and wraps it around a sphere, then spins like a globe
GraphStat Draws scientific and mathematical graphs on the screen
Gravity Circles bounce around the screen
Guts Gravity simulation
Hall of Fame 10th-anniversary module featuring anime-style recreations of various After Dark characters
Hall of Mirrors Reflects parts of the screen in an infinite mirror style
Hallucinations The computer "hallucinates"
Hard Rain Rain falls onto the desktop
Hula Twins Displays two animated figures who walk around and twirl hula hoops
Lasers Lasers create patterns on the screen
Lissajous Displays Lissajous designs
Logo User-supplied image moves randomly on the screen
Lunatic Fringe A playable space shooter game within a module
Magic Creates soothing patterns
Mandelbrot Generates a mathematically created Mandelbrot set
Marbles Marbles bounce around the screen
Meadow A computer-generated meadow
Message Mayhem[i] A figure on the screen scrawls out a message
Messages Displays a crawling marquee message on the screen with selectable font and text colors
Mike's So-called Life[i] Features a man named Mike, living in his apartment and doing nothing exciting
Mime Hunt[i] A playable module that features a mime and cross-hairs
Modern Art Modern Art displayed on the screen
Mondrian Inverts parts of the screen
Mosaic Creates a mosaic of the screen
Mountains Generates 3-D mountains
Movies 'Til Dawn Plays QuickTime movies
Mowin' Boris[i] Mowin' Man mows a field with Boris the cat around. When Mowin' Man runs over Boris, blood and guts, appear
Mowin' Man A man mows a constantly growing field
MultiModule Displays a user-selected combination of After Dark modules with the modules all displayed simultaneously and optionally overlaid over each other
Nirvana Generates colorful textures
Nocturnes Shows the eyes of various nocturnal creatures, such as bats
Nonsense Nonsensical phrases are displayed on the screen
Om Appliances Various appliances do weird things on the screen
Origami Computer-generated origami appears on the screen
Out and About A musician walks out with a chair and an instrument, sits down and begins to play while other people slowly appear and begin milling around while kids play
Pattern Animated patterns appear on the screen
Pearl An optical effect featuring squares
Penrose Penrose tiling effect
Phlegm Boy[i] An obnoxious slimy creature is disgusting and displays bad habits
Photon Computer-generated particles of light are emitted from the darkness
PICS Player Plays an animated sequence from a PICS file on the Mac platform
Plasma Plasma-like image generated
Punch Out Round holes appear to be punched out of the desktop
Puzzle The desktop becomes a sliding puzzle
Rain Colorful raindrops fall on the desktop
Rainstorm Like the Rain module, but with wind and lightning
Rainy Day[ii] Rain drops on the screen. Users can select how fast they fall and how strong the wind is.
Randomizer Randomly displays modules chosen from a user-generated list of modules
Rat Race A race featuring three rats with names, mindlessly wandering around the track until there is a winner
Rebound Balls rebound around the screen
Rose Mathematical pattern based on trigonometry
Satori Color animated light show
Say What? Displays humorous phrases
Scrubbing Bubbles[ii] Displays multiple Scrubbing Bubbles (Dow Brands) floating around the screen
Scrubbing Bubbles II[ii] Displays multiple Scrubbing Bubbles (Dow Brands) "scrubbing" the screen and going down the drain
Shapes Fills the screen with colorful, geometric shapes
Shock Clocks[i] Scary creatures are turned into clocks
Shooting Spree[ii] The desktop appears to be shot up by a gun. Users can select which gun to use.
Sinkhole[ii] The desktop appears to fall into sinkholes
Slide Show A basic slide show of user-supplied images
Snake A pixelated snake tries to find its way through a maze
Spheres A number of spheres fill the screen
Spin Brush Smears points on the screen like wet paper
Spiral Gyro Vector module that twists lines
Spotlight The desktop becomes black, and parts are "illuminated" by a randomly moving light spot
Squigwig Generates mathematical circles
Stained Glass Produces quilt-like patterns
Steam Rollin'[ii] Displays a guy driving around squishing toys, snakes and babies (a take-off on the Mowin' Man module)
Stormy Night Random lightning bolts with thunderclap sounds
Strange Attractor Computer-generated color image
String Theory Moire patterns
Sunburst Color pattern that appears to come from the Sun
Supernova Displays an exploding supernova
Swan Lake Swans swim around the desktop
This Ol' House[ii] Someone appears to be working on the desktop from the other side with power saws
Toaster 2K 10th anniversary module featuring futuristic and mecha versions of the flying toasters
Toxic Swamp[i] Parody of Fish!, but in a toxic, polluted swamp with mutated fish and a mob boss
Tunnel Makes the screen appear to be a tunnel
Use Your Own![ii] Displays multiple images of the users choice moving around the screen
Vertigo Colorful rainbow spirals drawn on the screen
Virex-D An implementation of the Virex anti-virus utility. Scans for viruses and displays icons in 3D form[21][22]
Voyeur[i] One appears to be spying on an apartment complex with a big city skyline in the background
Warp One appears to be travelling among stars at high speed
Window Blinds[ii] Desktop is separated into columns, and then each one turns like a window blind
Wrap Around Draws three-dimensional loops
Wrecking Ball[ii] A wrecking ball appears to demolish the desktop
You Bet Your Head Playable quiz game featuring three colored "heads" that are smashed by a hammer if one supplies the wrong answer to a question
Zoom! Creates colorful triangular tubes
Zot Attempts to generate lightning
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m An edition called After Dark Totally Twisted includes the more macabre modules, namely Bungee Roulette, Chameleon, Coming Soon!, Flying Toilets, FrankenScreen, Message Mayhem, Mike's So-called Life, Mime Hunt, Mowin' Boris, Phlegm Boy, Shock Clocks, Toxic Swamp, and Voyeur.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Modules from the Still in the Dark collection of 11 modules by Bob Loeffler.

Release history

  • version 1.0 - 1989[23]
  • version 2.0 - 1992 - The first official release for Windows.[24][25]
  • version 3.0 - 1994[26][27]
  • version 3.2 - 1995[28]
  • version 4.0 - 1996[29]

Licensed Products



  1. ^ Lammle, Bob (March 16, 2012). "'90s Tech Icons: Where Are They Now?". Mashable. Retrieved October 15, 2016.
  2. ^ "DOS user Need No Longer Covet After Dark for Windows". PC Magazine. Vol. 12, no. 21. December 7, 1993. p. 59.
  3. ^ Greg Shultz (April 14, 2011). "Flying Toasters - A look back at After Dark for Windows 1.0". TechRepublic.
  4. ^ a b "Aggressively Stupid: The Story Behind After Dark". Lowendmac.com. Archived from the original on February 11, 2010. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  5. ^ "On Mighty Toaster Wings: More After Dark History". Lowendmac.com. Archived from the original on February 11, 2010. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  6. ^ a b Phin, Christopher (February 3, 2015). "Think Retro: Bring back the Flying Toasters". Macworld. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  7. ^ "AfterDark Deluxe — Review". Mymac.com. Archived from the original on January 7, 2010. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  8. ^ a b "Software Parody Is Toast After Court Ruling". Bloomberg Business News. October 11, 1993. Retrieved March 3, 2016 – via Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ Rose, Lance (October 1, 1994). "Another Poppin' Fresh Lawsuit". Wired. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  10. ^ Quistgaard, Kaitlin (April 1, 1997). "Berkeley Systems Acquired by CUC". Wired.com. Archived from the original on June 15, 2010.
  11. ^ Perlmutter, David (2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 57–58. ISBN 978-1538103739.
  12. ^ "Press Release : Infinisys Releases After Dark X+Fish for Mac OS X". Infinysys. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  13. ^ "After Dark Screensavers : Classic Set (Macintosh)". Infinysys. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
  14. ^ GameSpot (May 19, 2006). "Vivendi Universal Games Mobile Announces Six New Titles". Gamespot.com. Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  15. ^ "After Dark Games". Berkeley Systems. 1998 – via Internet Archive.
  16. ^ "Advertisement Video:After Dark Games". Sierra Entertainment. 1998 – via Internet Archive.
  17. ^ "After Dark Games". MobyGames.
  18. ^ Herz, J. C. (April 29, 1999). "GAME THEORY; Flying Toasters That You Can Play With". The New York Times. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  19. ^ Baker II, Samuel (April 1999). "After Dark Games". Computer Gaming World. No. 177. Golden Empires Publication. p. 217.
  20. ^ Robertson, Virginia (May 1, 1999). "Kidscreen » Archive » Bonneau names that toon".
  21. ^ TidBITS Electronic Publishing (August 12, 1991). "TidBITS#76/12-Aug-91". TidBITS. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  22. ^ Anbinder, Mark H (August 12, 1991). "The Highlights". TidBITS. Retrieved November 3, 2021.
  23. ^ Simon, Barry (May 14, 1991). "First Looks: Windows Screen Blanders: Blanking Your Screen Is Only the Beginning". PC Magazine. Vol. 10, no. 9. p. 48.
  24. ^ "Announced". InfoWorld. Vol. 14, no. 7. February 17, 1992. p. 18. ISSN 0199-6649. ...After Dark 2.0 for Windows will add digitized sound and the capability to turn any After Dark display into wallpaper. Berkeley Systems Inc.'s screen-saver utility is due to ship this month for $49.95...
  25. ^ "Swans! Mirrors! More Fish!". PC Magazine. Vol. 11, no. 10. May 26, 1992. p. 64. ...Berkeley Systems, maker of the popular screen saver After Dark for Windows, is now shipping a new ...Version 2.0.
  26. ^ Marshall, Patrick (September 5, 1994). "Review/Test Drives: Screen Saver: After Dark joins rat race". InfoWorld. Vol. 16, no. 36. p. 95. ISSN 0199-6649.
  27. ^ "After Dark 3.0". Berkeley Systems. 1994 – via Internet Archive.
  28. ^ "After Dark 3.2". Berkeley Systems. 1995 – via Internet Archive.
  29. ^ "After Dark 4.0 Deluxe". Berkeley Systems. 1996 – via Internet Archive.
  30. ^ "After Dark: Star Trek - Macintosh Garden". macintoshgarden.org.
  31. ^ Perenson, Melissa J. (May 17, 1994). "After Hours: Windows Screen Savers: giving your PC a touch of panache". PC Magazine. Vol. 13, no. 9. pp. 416–417.
  32. ^ "After Dark: X-Men Screen Saver - Macintosh Garden". macintoshgarden.org.
  33. ^ "Afterdark Screen Savers". sites.google.com. Archived from the original on October 21, 2020. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
  34. ^ "After Dark - Star Trek: The Next Generation - Macintosh Garden". macintoshgarden.org.
  35. ^ Berkeley Systems After Dark Looney Tunes Screen Saver, by Berkeley Systems, Published 1995, Internet Archive
  36. ^ "After Dark Looney Tunes Collection". Berkeley Systems – via Internet Archive.
  37. ^ "After Dark - Toy Story - Macintosh Garden". macintoshgarden.org.
  38. ^ "After Dark: Myst Screen Saver - Macintosh Garden". macintoshgarden.org.
  39. ^ "Chex Quest Screen Saver - Macintosh Garden". macintoshgarden.org.

Further reading