After Dark's iconic screensaver.
- Date Discovered: 08/1990
- Discovered On: After Dark
In many ways, Flying Toaster was a meme that started before the modern concept of meme came into being.
The flying toasters meme is an animation of flying toasters with pieces of toast used as a screensaver. It was made by Berkeley Systems for the After Dark program in 1989. They were popular, and multiple versions and spin-offs were made, such as ones where smaller toasters were added, along with other food items such as pastries or bagels. There was also a version with flying toilets.
The screensaver allowed for various options to be chosen by the user:
- Toaster size
- Speed of flight velocity
- Toaster color
- Background color
- Bread or no bread
- Amount of bread
- Size of bread
- Bread darkness (from light to charcoal)
A Great Christmas Gift
In the December 12 1989 issue of the New York Times, the "Personal Computer" section recommended After Dark as a great gift.
After Dark, a $39.95 screen-saving program from Berkeley Systems Inc. of Berkeley, Calif. (415) 540-5535, is our new favorite utility for prolonging the life of the monitor and having some fun at the same time. Screen savers constantly change the image on an idle monitor. This prevents burn in of the light-sensitive phosphors that coat the inside of the screen, so that unwanted images don't get permanently etched on the display. After Dark comes with a dozen moving images to choose from, including crawling worms, lightning bolts and even custom-designed images, like company logos.
Theme Song Lyrics
Flying out of the sun
The smell of toast is in the air,
When there's a job to be done,
The flying toasters will be there,
And it's Flap! Flap! Flap!
Now help is on the way,
This vic’try song they sing,
We pop up to save the day,
On Mighty Toaster Wings!
In Brightest Day or After Dark,
When times of trouble are at hand,
The Flying Toasters set a spark,
And hope is blazing ‘cross the land!
And it's Flap! Flap! Flap!
Salvation from above,
A precious gift they bring:
Gleaming Angels of Love,
On Migh-ty Toast-er Wings!
Berkeley Systems produced a lot of screensaver software in the late eighties. Back in the day, screensavers were used to prevent images from "burning" into CRT monitors by having the screen blank or through the use of animations. The flying toasters were one of the most popular ones, and merchandise was even made.
High Praise in Reviews
After Dark 2.0 was the first edition to feature the flying toasters. Usenet user Dave Taylor reviewed it as such:
I just received the 2.0 revision of After Dark, the screen saver from Berkeley Systems, and all I can say is "Wow!" The new modules, especially Fish and Flying Toasters, are just quite exceptional.
Flying Toasters: Just what it sounds like. :) Toasters with wings chase toast across the screen. No, there is not a gas leak in our building. :)
It's still remembered in various YouTube videos and such. Comments like "OMG I remember that!" are very common.
- 12 December 1989 (issue of the NYTimes discusses flying toasters as a Christmas gift)
- 1 August 1990 (first usernet message discussing flying toasters)
- Flying Toasters Pro has "Ride of the Valkyries" by Wagner as music, or the karaoke theme song of the toasters.
- Flying Toasters! has bagels, pastries, little toasters, and better animation.