After Dark

After Dark

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After Dark is a series of computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

A screensaver is a type of computer program initially designed to prevent phosphor burn-in on CRT and plasma computer monitors by blanking the screen or filling it with moving images or patterns when the computer is not in use...

 software introduced in 1989 by Berkeley Systems
Berkeley Systems
Berkeley Systems was a San Francisco Bay Area software company co-founded in 1987 by Wes Boyd and Joan Blades. It made money early on by performing contract work for the National Institutes of Health, specifically in making modifications to the Macintosh so that it could be used by partially...

 for the Apple Macintosh, and later for Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft.Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces . Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal...


Following the original, new editions were introduced including More After Dark and Before Dark, as well as editions themed around licensed properties such as Star Trek
Star Trek
Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

, The Simpsons
The Simpsons
The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical parody of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by its family of the same name, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie...

, Looney Tunes
Looney Tunes
Looney Tunes is a Warner Bros. animated cartoon series. It preceded the Merrie Melodies series and was Warner Bros.'s first animated theatrical series. Since its first official release, 1930's Sinkin' in the Bathtub, the series has become a worldwide media franchise, spawning several television...

 and Walt Disney Company characters. The screensaver modules were often noted for their intertextuality
Intertextuality is the shaping of texts' meanings by other texts. It can include an author’s borrowing and transformation of a prior text or to a reader’s referencing of one text in reading another. The term “intertextuality” has, itself, been borrowed and transformed many times since it was coined...

, such as the flying toasters appearing in the Fish screensaver, and the cat from Boris screensaver appearing in the Bad Dog screensaver.

As well as the included animated screensavers, it allowed the development and use of third-party modules, of which many hundreds were created by the height of After Dark's popularity.

Flying Toasters

Of the screensaver modules included, the most famous is the iconic Flying Toasters which featured 1940s-style chrome toaster
The toaster is typically a small electric kitchen appliance designed to toast multiple types of bread products. A typical modern two-slice toaster draws anywhere between 600 and 1200 W and makes toast in 1 to 3 minutes...

s sporting bird-like wings, flying across the screen with pieces of toast. A slider enabled users to adjust the toast's darkness and an updated Flying Toasters Pro module added a choice of music: Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

's Ride of the Valkyries
Ride of the Valkyries
The Ride of the Valkyries is the popular term for the beginning of Act III of Die Walküre, the second of the four operas by Richard Wagner that comprise Der Ring des Nibelungen. The main theme of the Ride, the leitmotif labelled Walkürenritt, was first written down by the composer on 23 July 1851...

 or a flying toaster anthem with optional karaoke lyrics. 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 why 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
Delrina was a Canadian software company founded by four individuals, Dennis Bennie as CEO and chairman, Mark Skapinker as president, Bert Amato as executive vice president and chief technical officer and Lou Ryan as executive vice president of world wide sales...

, over a module of Delrina's Opus 'N Bill screensaver in which Opus the penguin
Opus the Penguin
Opus the Penguin is a character in the comic strips and children's books of Berkeley Breathed, most notably the popular 1980s strip Bloom County. Breathed has described him as an "existentialist penguin" and the favorite of his many characters...

 shoots down the toasters. Delrina later changed the wings of the toasters to propellers in order to avoid infringing the trademark
A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or...

. The second case was brought in 1994 by 1960s rock group Jefferson Airplane
Jefferson Airplane
Jefferson Airplane was an American rock band formed in San Francisco in 1965. A pioneer of the psychedelic rock movement, Jefferson Airplane was the first band from the San Francisco scene to achieve mainstream commercial and critical success....

 who claimed that the toasters were a copy of the winged toasters featured on the cover of their 1973 album Thirty Seconds Over Winterland
Thirty Seconds Over Winterland
-Personnel:Personnel credits from original Vinyl release.*Jack Casady – bass*Paul Kantner – vocals, rhythm guitar*Jorma Kaukonen – lead guitar, vocals*Grace Slick – vocals*Papa John Creach – electric violin*John Barbata – drums, percussion...

. 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.

A 3D version of the toasters featuring swarms of toasters with plane
Fixed-wing aircraft
A fixed-wing aircraft is an aircraft capable of flight using wings that generate lift due to the vehicle's forward airspeed. Fixed-wing aircraft are distinct from rotary-wing aircraft in which wings rotate about a fixed mast and ornithopters in which lift is generated by flapping wings.A powered...

 wings, rather than bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

 wings, is available for XScreenSaver
XScreenSaver is a collection of about two hundred free screensavers for Unix and Mac OS X computers. It was created by Jamie Zawinski in 1992 and is still maintained by him....


After Dark Games and onward

Sierra Interactive and Berkeley Systems released After Dark Games for the Macintosh and Windows platforms, which contained several games modeled after their previously released screensavers. These games included Mowin' Maniac (a Pac-Man
is an arcade game developed by Namco and licensed for distribution in the United States by Midway, first released in Japan on May 22, 1980. Immensely popular from its original release to the present day, Pac-Man is considered one of the classics of the medium, virtually synonymous with video games,...

 clone based on the "Mowin' Man"/"Mowin' Boris" modules), Roof Rats (similar to SameGame
is a computer puzzle game featuring tile removal originally released under the name Chain Shot! in 1985 by Kuniaki Moribe . It has since been ported to numerous computer platforms.-History:...

 and variants), "Solitaire
Solitaire is any tabletop game which one can play by oneself or with other people. The solitaire card game Klondike is often known as simply Solitaire....

" (After Dark themed), Toaster Run (a 3D adventure game featuring several After Dark Characters, more notably the Flying Toaster), Zapper (a trivia game), Hula Girl (another 3D adventure 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 Shtix (based on the "Fish" modules, mainly "Fish World"), Foggy Boxes (a connect the boxes type game based on the "Messages 4.0" module), MooShu tiles (a Mahjong
Mahjong, sometimes spelled Mah Jongg, is a game that originated in China, commonly played by four players...

-like game featuring many After Dark characters throughout the years), and Rodger Dodger. "Rodger Dodger" had been a module several years back, but also a playable game inside the module. Not much was changed from the module except some of the music and most of the level's set-ups. Many fans liked the games, but some felt it lacked games based on more fitting modules, such as "Daredevil Dan", "Lunatic Fringe" (which was a game inside its module, like "Rodger Dodger"), and the After Dark re-working of "Rock, Paper Scissors" (also a game inside its module).

In 1997, Berkeley Systems was acquired by the Sierra On-Line division of CUC International
CUC International
CUC International Inc. is a membership-based consumer services conglomerate with travel, shopping, auto, dining, home improvement and financial services offered to more than 60 million customers worldwide based out of Stamford, Connecticut and founded by Kirk Shelton and Walter Forbes...

. Joan Blades
Joan Blades
Joan Blades was the cofounder in 1987 with her husband Wes Boyd of Berkeley Systems, a San Francisco Bay area software company known for marketing the After Dark screensaver and the You Don't Know Jack trivia game...

 and Wes Boyd
Wes Boyd
Wes Boyd is an American businessman. In 1987, he and his wife Joan Blades were the co-founders of Berkeley Systems, a San Francisco Bay area software company. After selling the company in 1997, Boyd and Blades went on to found the progressive political group links:...

, the founders of Berkeley Systems, went on to create

Fans have made modern versions of several of the screensavers in the years since. An official version of After Dark was released for Mac OS X
Mac OS X
Mac OS X is a series of Unix-based operating systems and graphical user interfaces developed, marketed, and sold by Apple Inc. Since 2002, has been included with all new Macintosh computer systems...

 by Infinisys Ltd (of Japan) in May 2003. It has yet to be converted to Universal binary
Universal binary
A universal binary is, in Apple parlance, an executable file or application bundle that runs natively on either PowerPC or Intel-manufactured IA-32 or Intel 64-based Macintosh computers; it is an implementation of the concept more generally known as a fat binary.With the release of Mac OS X Snow...

, so at the current moment it can only be run on PowerPC
PowerPC is a RISC architecture created by the 1991 Apple–IBM–Motorola alliance, known as AIM...

 computers with OS X.

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


  • Starry Night: The original After Dark screensaver featuring a pixelized city skyline under a night sky

  • Aquatic Realm: Underwater world of fish with a black background

  • Artist: A digital artist applies artistic touches to images in a slow manner so you can see the artist work

  • Bad Dog: Popular module featuring a white dog with a black ring around one of his eyes causing trouble on the user's desktop.

  • Bogglins: Green slime creatures are formed and make obnoxious noises

  • Boris: The opposite of Bad Dog, a good cat plays on the user's desktop and chases butterflies.

  • Bugs: Digital bugs crawl across the screen

  • Bulge: Expands portions of the screen, making the screen appear to have a "bulge"

  • Bungee Roulette: Various characters bungee jump off the top of the screen, but occasionally the bungee cord will break

  • Can of Worms: "Worms" emerge from your screen and crawl around

  • Chameleon: Chameleons walk across your screen, changing colors and eating icons

  • Clocks: Different objects appear as a clock and move around

  • Coming Soon: 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 busses, flames, and pirhana tanks

  • Dominoes: A game of dominoes is played on the screen

  • DOS Shell: A mock DOS shell is run on the user's screen, reliving the old days of computing

  • Dots: A game of "dots" is played on the user's screen.

  • Down the Drain: Your desktop appears to spiral down a drain.

  • Einstein: Complex mathematical and scientific equations are performed on screen.

  • Fade Away: Your desktop fades away in different ways

  • Fish Pro: Fish module similar to Aquatic Realm

  • Flocks: Displays flocks of various creatures on the screen

  • Flying Toasters: Classic module featuring flying toasters

  • Flying Toasters Pro: Updated version that allows you to select more than flying toasters and also has music

  • Flying Toilets: Like Flying Toasters, only with toilets

  • Fractal Forest: A forest of trees is generated on screen

  • FrankenScreen: A digital Frankenstein creates creatures out of various parts

  • Frost and Fire: Produces patters 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

  • Graph Stat: Draws scientific and mathematical graphs on your screen

  • Gravity: Circles bounce around the screen

  • Guts: Gravity Simulation

  • Hall of Mirrors: Reflects parts of the screen in an infinite mirror style

  • Hallucinations: Your computer "hallucinating"

  • Hard Rain: Rain falls onto the user's desktop

  • Lasers: Lasers create patterns on the screen

  • Logo: Allows you to use your own image as a screen saver

  • Lunatic Fringe: Playable screen saver that allows to run!

  • Magic: Creates soothing patterns

  • Mandelbrot: Generates a Mandelbrot, mathematically created

  • Marbles: Marbles bounce around the screen

  • Meadow: A computer generated meadow

  • Message Mayhem: A figure on screen sprawls out a message

  • Messages: Basic screen saver that shows a message on screen

  • Mike's So-called Life: A screen saver featuring a man named Mike living in his apartment and doing nothing exciting

  • Mime Hunt: A playable screen saver that features a mime and cross hairs

  • Modern Art: Modern Art displayed on screen

  • Mondrian: Inverts parts of the screen

  • Mosaic: Creates a mosaic of the screen

  • Mountains: Generates 3-D mountains

  • Mowin' Boris: Mowin Man mows a field with Boris the cat around. When Mowin Man mows over Boris, blood and guts appear

  • Mowin' Man: A man mows a constantly growing field

  • Nirvana: Generates colorful textures

  • Nocturnes: Shows the eyes of various nocturnal creatures such as bats

  • Nonsense: Nonsensical phrases are displayed on screen

  • Om Appliances: Various appliances do weird things on screen

  • Oragami: Computer generated oragami appears on screen

  • Pattern: Animated patterns appear on screen

  • Pearl: An optical effect featuring squares

  • Penrose: Penrose tiling effect

  • Phlegm Boy: An obnoxious slimy creature is disgusting and displays bad habits

  • Photon: Computer generated particles of light emit from the darkness

  • Plasma: Plasma like image generated

  • Punch Out: Your desktop appears to be punched with a hole puncher

  • Puzzle: Your desktop becomes a sliding puzzle

  • Rain: Colorful rain drops fall on the desktop

  • Rainstorm: Like the Rain module but with wind and lightning

  • 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 triganometry

  • Satori: Color animated light show

  • Say What?: Displays humorous phrases

  • Shapes: Fills the screen with colorful, geometric shapes

  • Shock Clocks: Scary creatures are turned into clocks

  • Shooting Spree: The desktop appears to be shot up by a gun

  • Sinkhole: The desktop appears to fall into sink holes

  • Slide Show: A basic slide show of images

  • Snake: A pixelized snake tries to find its way through a maze

  • Spheres: A bunch of spheres fill the screen

  • Spin Brush: Smears points on the screen like wet paper

  • Spiral Gyro: Vector module that twists lines

  • Spotlight: Your desktop becomes black and parts are illuminated by a spotlight

  • Squigwig: Mathematical circles are generated

  • Stained Glass: Produces quilt like patterns

  • Strange Attractor: Another computer generated color image

  • String Theory: Moire patterns

  • Sunburst: Color pattern that appears to come from the sun

  • Swan Lake: Swans swim around the user's desktop

  • This Ol House: It appears that someone is working on the user's desktop from the outside with power tools

  • Toxic Swamp: Like Aquatic Realm, only in a toxic polluted swamp with mutated fish and a mob boss

  • Tunnel: Appears your screen is a tunnel

  • Vertigo: Colorful spirals drawn on screen

  • Voyeur: It appears you are spying on an apartment complex with a big city skyline in the background

  • Warp: Appears you are traveling through stars

  • Wrap Around: Draws three dimensional loops

  • Wrecking Ball: Appears a wrecking ball demolishes your desktop

  • You Bet Your Head: Playable quiz game featuring three colored "heads" that get smashed by a hammer if they get the question wrong

  • Zoom!: Creates colorful triangular tubes

  • Zot: Attempts to generate lightning

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.

In popular culture

  • Several After Dark modules were featured in the background of interviews for the VH1
    VH1 or Vh1 is an American cable television network based in New York City. Launched on January 1, 1985 in the old space of Turner Broadcasting's short-lived Cable Music Channel, the original purpose of the channel was to build on the success of MTV by playing music videos, but targeting a slightly...

     show I Love the 90s.

  • The Simpsons, which had an official After Dark module package based on the series, has made references to After Dark several times throughout the series. A Flying Toaster appeared in the Simpsons episode The Computer Wore Menace Shoes
    The Computer Wore Menace Shoes
    “The Computer Wore Menace Shoes” is the sixth episode of The Simpsons twelfth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on December 3, 2000. In the episode, Homer buys a computer and creates his own website to spread gossip...

     on Homer Simpson
    Homer Simpson
    Homer Jay Simpson is a fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons and the patriarch of the eponymous family. He is voiced by Dan Castellaneta and first appeared on television, along with the rest of his family, in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987...

    's website full of animated GIFs, one of which was the Flying Toaster. The module "Starry Night" was also referenced in The Simpsons episode, "'Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky
    'Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky
    "Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky" is the sixteenth episode of the fourteenth season of The Simpsons that aired March 30, 2003. The title is a punning reference to the line " 'Scuse me while I kiss the sky" from the song "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix....

    ". At the end of the episode, while looking at the stars, Marge Simpson
    Marge Simpson
    Marjorie "Marge" Simpson is a fictional main character in the animated television series The Simpsons and part of the eponymous family. She is voiced by actress Julie Kavner and first appeared on television in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987...

     says "This is better than our screensaver, and I love our screensaver." The "Starry Night" module is famous for its star filled night sky. In the episode "Radioactive Man
    Radioactive Man (The Simpsons episode)
    "Radioactive Man" is the second episode of The Simpsons seventh season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on September 24, 1995. The episode sees the film version of the comic book series Radioactive Man set up production in Springfield. Much to Bart's disappointment, the...

    ", the Flying Toasters screensaver can be seen on Comic Book Guy
    Comic Book Guy
    Comic Book Guy is a recurring fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Hank Azaria, and first appeared in the second-season episode "Three Men and a Comic Book", which originally aired on May 9, 1991. He is the proprietor of a comic book store, The...

    's computer.

  • A Flying Toaster appears in the episode of Futurama
    Futurama is an American animated science fiction sitcom created by Matt Groening and developed by Groening and David X. Cohen for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series follows the adventures of a late 20th-century New York City pizza delivery boy, Philip J...

     titled "The Honking
    The Honking
    "The Honking" is episode eighteen in season two of Futurama. It originally aired in North America on November 5, 2000. The title comes from The Howling, a modern werewolf film.-Plot:...

    ", where it, along with the Microsoft Windows
    Microsoft Windows
    Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft.Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces . Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal...

     logo and other computer icons of the 1990s, chase Bender.

  • A Flying Toaster also appears in the Rugrats
    Rugrats is an American animated television series created by Arlene Klasky, Gábor Csupó, and Paul Germain for Nickelodeon. The series premiered on August 11, 1991, and aired its last episode on June 8, 2004....

    episode "In the Dreamtime", in which Chuckie Finster
    Chuckie Finster
    Charles "Chuckie" Crandall Finster is a fictional character from the Nickelodeon animated television series' Rugrats and All Grown Up!. He is Tommy Pickles' best friend and tritagonist . The character is voiced by Christine Cavanaugh...

     sees a Flying Toaster in his dream.

  • On the television show Beverly Hills 90210, the Peach Pit After Dark Night Club used a flying toaster as its logo.

  • In the Time Chasers
    Time Chasers
    Time Chasers is a 1994 science fiction film directed by David Giancola and starring Matthew Bruch, George Woodard, and Bonnie Pritchard. The film follows the adventures of an amateur inventor who goes through time with his female accomplice to stop an evil megacorporation intent on changing...

    episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000
    Mystery Science Theater 3000
    Mystery Science Theater 3000 is an American cult television comedy series created by Joel Hodgson and produced by Best Brains, Inc., that ran from 1988 to 1999....

    , one of the commentators refers to After Dark's flying toasters.

  • A flying toaster is seen in The Fairly OddParents
    The Fairly OddParents
    The Fairly OddParents is an American-Canadian animated television series created by Butch Hartman about the adventures of Timmy Turner, who is granted fairy godparents named Cosmo and Wanda. The series started out as cartoon segments that ran from September 4, 1998 to March 23, 2001 on Oh Yeah!...

     episode "What's the Difference?" Another one (previously a bird) is also seen in the episode "Nectar of the Odds."

  • In the King of the Hill episode "Earthly Girls are Easy
    Earthly Girls are Easy
    "Earthly Girls are Easy" is the second episode in the 13th season of the Fox animated series King of the Hill, and the 237th episode overall. It originally aired on October 5, 2008. Marissa Jaret Winokur and Mo Collins guest star...

    ," Buck Strickland has a flying toaster screen saver that keeps him happy.

  • In the music video of Jean-Jacques Goldman
    Jean-Jacques Goldman
    Jean-Jacques Goldman is a Grammy Awards-winning French singer-songwriter. He is hugely popular in the French-speaking world, and since 2003 was the second-highest-grossing French living pop singer, after Johnny Hallyday.- Biography :...

     - Les choses, a huge number of flying toaster are trying to take control of the world, attacking the planet by sending frequency and controlling items.

  • The 1998 animated Fox Family
    Fox Family
    Fox Family may refer to:* The Fox Family, a 2006 South Korean film* Fox Family, a former name of American television cable network ABC Family...

     TV series, Bad Dog
    Bad Dog
    Bad Dog may refer to:*Bad Dog an Acousti-Punk / Lo-Fi Performer Bad Dog Frankie Pointless*"Bad Dog" *"Bad Dog" , an episode of Frasier*Bad Dog , a short-lived cartoon series...

    was inspired by the screensaver.

External links