Do you remember the Windows 3D Pipes screensaver? Microsoft shares the story of how it came to be

The story of the best Windows screensaver ever.

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microsoft 3d pipes screensaver

Did you ever get lost in the twisting 3D pipes on your computer screen, thinking about how this basic screensaver could hold your attention?

There is an interesting story behind Microsoft’s famous 3D Pipes screensaver that many of us may not have heard. This tale dates back to the mid-90s when screensavers were more than just for looks – they were vital in stopping “burn-in” on CRT monitors.

In the past, screensavers were important for safeguarding the screen by maintaining animation when there was no activity. However, what made this particular screensaver? The story began with Raymond Chen and his partner working on the Windows OpenGL graphics programming interface team.

They were grappling with how to demonstrate their new hardware-accelerated OpenGL feature for the upcoming Windows NT 3.5 release.

Time was running out for the OS’s ship date, and the team needed a fast way to show what they could do. So, the idea of a screensaver design contest within the Windows team came up. Screensavers were just right: low-risk and ideal for showing off new technology.

Teams at Microsoft were tasked with making the best 3D screensaver, which was decided through voting throughout the company.

In full force, the OpenGL team created animations such as 3D Text, 3D Maze, and 3D Flying Objects. But their main work was the famous 3D Pipes screensaver. Finally, nearing the end of the contest, an unexpected twist happened.

A marketing team member, impressed by the screensavers, said all entries are good enough for Windows NT. In an instant, the 3D Pipes screensaver and its friends were selected to be seen on many desktops around the globe from just being a test within Microsoft.

Today, screensavers such as 3D Pipes are no longer needed because of progress in display technology. However, the Internet Archive has a solution for people who are sentimental or want an easy background while having a coffee break.

You can download these old files and use them with modern systems to bring back to life an important part of computing history. But if you want something else, know that we have you covered.

Therefore, when you observe those 3D pipes on your computer screen twisting in a pattern, remember the originality and fortune involved in their creation.

You can also experience it in your browser if you want to spend entire hours looking at endless pipes on your screen.

It’s a cue for us all to recall how creativity can arise from anywhere—sometimes, it might be as simple as an unexpected screensaver turning into something innovative!

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