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By Greg Shultz
In 1989 Berkeley Systems released its After Dark screen saver product for the Macintosh and then for Windows. If you were into computers in the Windows 3.x days, then you are no doubt familiar with their signature Flying Toasters screen saver, which featured 1940s-style chrome toasters with wings flying across the screen.
In 1992, Berkeley Systems thrilled Trekkies all over the world, myself included, by creating and releasing Star Trek: The Screen Saver. I still have the manual and original installation disks and recently installed it in a Virtual PC Windows 3.1 set up to relive the excitement of seeing my favorite screen savers.
Back in those days, screen savers actually served a purpose other than entertaining computer geeks while the computer was idle. This bit of text is the first paragraph on page 1 of the manual.
The After Dark Control panel allowed you to select any one of the screen savers in the Star Trek collection and each one offered a number of unique configuration settings. In addition to bringing Star Trek images to the desktop, the program came with a large collection of original Star Trek sound effects.
One of my favorite screen savers was called Final Exam and it is both an interactive Star Trek trivia game and screen saver.
The interactive Exam is multiple choice displaying a question and four possible answers. The timer in the upper left counts down the amount of time you’ve allotted to answer the question (5-15 seconds). Once you select an answer, you find out if you’ve chosen the correct answer. If you’ve chosen the wrong answer or don’t answer within the allotted time you’ll see an appropriate message and then briefly see the correct answer.
In the Scotty’s Files screen saver, you’re shown a series of technical schematics of star ships and various devices such as a Tricorder and a Phaser.
Not only does the Sickbay screen saver show you detailed readouts in the bed panels from specific episodes, but you also hear the familiar heart beat sound effect.
In the Mission screen saver you see images from various Star Trek episodes like this one from the The Corbomite Maneuver episode showing Balok, who announces that he will destroy the Enterprise for trespassing into First Federation territory and destroying the marker buoy. Balok informs the crew they have 10 minutes to pray to their deities before their demise.
The Tholian Web screen saver shows a scene from a Star Trek episode of the same name in which the Enterprise is trapped by an energy-draining web spun by aliens called the Tholians, while Captain Kirk is caught between dimensions.
Just like in The Trouble with Tribbles episode, little, fuzzy critters called Tribbles pile up on your screen obstructing the desktop. Of course, the Tribbles screen saver is complete with the warbling sound that the Tribbles make.