Group: After Dark series


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. After Dark was very popular on both the early Macintosh computers and Windows 3.0, as neither included any kind of screen saver or screen blanker that would help prevent screen burn-in and was arguably responsible for the screensaver craze of the early 1990s.

After Dark 1: The Versatile Screen Saver

After Dark was a personal project of Jack Eastman while he was working on his PhD at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. He taught himself to program the Macintosh during that time. Trying out graphics algorithms on the Mac, it occurred to him that it would be fun to have them as a screen saver. It was however much harder to write a screen saver than to do the graphics, especially since there was no concept in the OS of a screen saver, making it mandatory to use Assembly Language. A friend and programmer for the Astrophysics group at LBL, Patrick Beard, helped him figure some things out.
At some point Jack had something working, and gave a copy (still without title) to Patrick who by that time was working at Berkeley Systems, and he ran it at work. At some point the boss, Wes Boyd, noticed the screensaver, inquired about it, and Jack was called in. They made a deal where Jack agreed to finish it up to a marketable product. After Dark was born and, against expectations, it sold extremely well.

Released in 1989, the original "After Dark: The Versatile Screen Saver" for the Macintosh featured six different screen savers (modules):
- Starry Night: The original After Dark screen saver, featuring a pixelated city skyline under a night sky
- Bouncing Ball: A ball bounces around the screen and off the edges
- Can of Worms: "Worms" emerge from the screen, crawl around, and "eat" the screen content
- Clock: Different objects appear as a clock and move around
- Fade Away: The desktop fades away in different ways
- Hard Rain: Rain falls onto the desktop

There was not a single bitmapped image. Everything was lines and circles, but it was a big hit nonetheless.

After Dark 2.0: The Ultimate Screensaver Collection

Given the commercial success of the first release, Berkeley decided to take it to a new level quickly, bringing art to it. One late night, Jack was looking for a creative and fun idea at home when his toaster caught his eye and his sleep-deprived brain imagined wings on it. Crudely coding up the animation that night, he brought it to Berkeley Systems the next day where everybody loved the idea. An artist re-rendered the toasters, and Patrick re-coded it. Jack also insisted on having a slider that controlled the darkness of the toast. They also added randomness to it so that the module would become unpredictable and non-repetitive. The flying toaster would turn out to become the signature module of the entire After Dark series.

After Dark 2 was a world ahead of the first release and was really the breakout title of the series. It had improved technically, artistically, and was better marketed with a more attractive box, and it featured 26 new modules, plus the 6 modules of After Dark 1. In addition it introduced MultiModule, allowing multiple modules to work simultaeously. It also introduced the Randomizer, allowing to select multiple modules to play in sequence or randomly, as well as setting the duration of each module.:
- Starry Night (from AD1)
- Bouncing Ball (from AD1)
- Can of Worms (from AD1)
- Clock (from AD1)
- Doodles: Draws doodle-like images
- Down the Drain: The desktop appears to spiral down a drain
- Fade Away (from AD1)
- Fish!: Underwater world of fish with a black background
- Flying Toasters: Classic module featuring flying toasters
- Hard Rain (from AD1)
- Lissajous: Displays Lissajous designs
- Logo: User-supplied image moves randomly on the screen
- Messages: Displays a crawling marquee message on the screen with selectable font and text colors
- MultiModule: Displays a user-selected combination of After Dark modules with the modules all displayed simultaneously and optionally overlaid over each other
- Nightlines: displays moving webs of colorful lines on a black background.
- PICS Player: Plays an animated sequence from a PICS file on the Mac platform
- Picture Frame: displays a user-selected picture.
- Puzzle: The desktop becomes a sliding puzzle.
- Rainstorm: Like the Rain module, but with wind and lightning
- Randomizer: Randomly displays modules chosen from a user-generated list of modules.
- Rose: Mathematical pattern based on trigonometry
- Satori: Color animated light show.
- Shapes: Fills the screen with colorful, geometric shapes.
- Slide Show: A basic slide show of user-supplied images.
- Spheres: A number of spheres fill the screen.
- Spotlight: The desktop becomes black, and parts are "illuminated" by a randomly moving light spot.
- Starry Skyline: similar to Starry Night.
- String Theory: Moire patterns.
- Supernova: Displays an exploding supernova.
- Vertigo: Colorful rainbow spirals drawn on the screen.
- Warp!: One appears to be travelling among stars at high speed.
- Zot!: Lightning bursts.

More After Dark

More After Dark is an expansion pack for After Dark 2.0 or later versions, released in 1991. It was the first release that included contest-winning modules (Mowin' Man and Tunnel), and the first After Dark interactive game (Lunatic Fringe). It includes 26 new modules, namely:
- Boris: A cat plays on the desktop and chases butterflies.
- Confetti Factory: Confetti falls from the top of the screen and onto conveyor belts below. Also ducklings appear.
- Dominoes: A game of dominoes is played on the screen.
- 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: Balls bounce to the bottom of the screen.
- Life II: colorful dotted patterns flicker on the screen.
- Lunatic Fringe: AD's first interactive game, a space combat game.
- MAD Fish!: presumably an expansion, adding more fish species to Fish!
- Mandelbrot: Generates a mathematically created Mandelbrot set.
- Meadow: A computer-generated meadow.
- Modern Art: Modern Art displayed on the screen.
- Mountains: Generates 3-D mountains.
- Mowin' Man: An AD contest winner. A man mows a constantly growing field.
- Nocturnes: Shows the eyes of various nocturnal creatures.
- Punchout: Various shapes appear to be punched out of the desktop.
- Rain: Colorful raindrops fall on the desktop.
- Ripple: Drops splash and cause ripple effects.
- Say What?: Displays humorous phrases
- Snake: A pixelated snake tries to find its way through a maze.
- Spiral Gyra: Vector module that twists lines.
- Stained Glass: Produces quilt-like patterns.
- String Art
- Terraform
- Tunnel: An AD contest winner. Makes the screen appear to be a tunnel.

After Dark: The Art of Darkness

The Art of Darkness, released in 1992, is yet another but more obscure expansion pack. It includes the following 10 modules:
- Blackboard: Various lines or formulae are written on a blackboard.
- Bogglins: A green creature bounces around, making obnoxious noises, and explodes.
- Fractal Forest: A forest of trees is generated on the screen.
- Major Metaphysical Appliances: Fridges and washing machines fly up across the screen.
- Movies 'Til Dawn: displays user-selected movies.
- Pearls: Colorful shapes appear in screen.
- ProtoToasters: Black and white Flying Toasters.
- Spin Brush: colorful spinning shapes.
- Strange Attractors: Computer-generated color image.
- SunBurst: Color pattern that appears to come from the Sun.

After Dark for Windows

At some point in the early 90s it became clear that Windows was gaining traction and would challenge the Mac. A port to Windows for After Dark was necessary but nobody at Berkeley Systems knew anything about it. Bill Stewart and Ian MacDonald were hired for the job, which was an awkward experience because none at Berkeley could evaluate their work and all were specialized in the Mac and wary about this new Windows system. However ultimately Bill and Ian did a great job.

Licensed products

Given the massive popularity of the After Dark screensavers, Berkeley also started working on licensed products. This included Star Trek, The Simpsons, Looney Tunes, Marvel, and Disney characters. At that point, many of the technical challenges of the development were solved, and After Dark became sort of a vehicle for generating revenue.

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.

Sierra acquisition of Berkeley

In 1997, Berkeley Systems was acquired by the Sierra On-Line division of CUC International. During this time they released multiple After Dark compilations, consisting of previously released modules. These are the titles we're focusing on in the Sierra Chest and are:
- After Dark Classic (re-release)
- After Dark Midnight Collection
- After Dark Games
- After Dark 4.0
- After Dark 10th Anniversary Collection

Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, the founders of Berkeley Systems, went on to create 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 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. For Apple silicon and Intel Macs, remakes of three popular modules — Flying Toasters, Mowing Man and Boris — are being sold as standalone screensavers. Sierra released a Flying Toaster video game for cell phones in 2006.

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