for Windows

Johnny Castaway

Johnny has found himself stranded on a small desert island with nothing but a coconut palm tree, the wonky raft on which he arrived, and an empty horizon. Watch as this castaway does his best to survive on fish and coconuts, passing time by engaging in a seemingly endless variety of activities, and coming ever so close to being rescued. Sounds are enabled by default, but can be turned off via Windows's Screen Saver Settings.

Preview images

First screenshot of Johnny Castaway Second screenshot of Johnny Castaway Third screenshot of Johnny Castaway

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System requirements

Editor's review

"The classic man-on-island screensaver"

  Johnny Castaway was reviewed on June 4, 2012.

When it was first released in 1993 by Sierra On-Line/Dynamix, Johnny Castaway was the first screensaver to tell a story. It thus distinguished itself from the similarly popular 1989 After Dark series of screensavers, which featured flying toasters and starry nights, among others, and notably had a modular system that allowed third parties to add new themes and animations to the series. These were all relatively predictable — Johnny Castaway was not.

Scan of the original slip cover for the Johnny Castaway screensaver

At the center of this screensaver is the stranded man we have come to know as Johnny Castaway, alone on a small desert island with nothing but a coconut palm tree. Most of his days are spent fishing, reading, running and drinking from coconuts, but every so often he engages in a new activity, or some unexpected event takes place. He may be visited by a mermaid, eaten by a shark, or come close to being rescued, but whatever the adventure is, Johnny always ends up back on his island. These scenes occur randomly, and so the exciting thing about this screensaver is that you'll never know what will happen next.

One exception to this irregularity of events is that Johnny celebrates the major U.S. holidays, including New Year's Eve, Christmas, St. Patrick's Day and Halloween. As the screensaver depends on your computer clock, it's easy to trick Johnny into thinking it's Christmas by changing the date to December 25.

It will be obvious to anyone watching this screensaver today that the graphics have not been updated since the initial release in 1993. Since most modern computer monitors have display resolutions far above 640x480 pixels, the screensaver is unlikely to employ your whole screen. Instead, it will be displayed at its original size against a black background — using less power, it should perhaps be noted, than if it were to fill the whole screen.

The biggest downside to the lack of updates for this screensaver, however, is that it may soon become impossible to use at all. Johnny Castaway was designed to run on a 16-bit operating system, such as Windows 3.1x. While all 32-bit versions of Windows, including XP, Vista and 7, will continue to support 16-bit software programs such as this one, the trend is toward 64-bit computer systems, which will not allow 16-bit programs to run.

Despite these flaws, exposed by modernized technology, Johnny Castaway still stands tall as one of the most entertaining screensavers of the last two decades. As long as you have a 32-bit version of Windows, you can and should experience this important and fun piece of computer history that helped popularize screen savers.

If you need an excuse to be watching Johnny's adventures all day, here's the plea from the bottled letter that accompanied the original 3 ½-inch floppy disk: "Stop everything! Only when you quit working, do I have a chance to escape this forsaken island. So please, do it for me — kill some time to save an old salt!"

Installation

These are installation notes for the Johnny Castaway screensaver.

  1. Double-click on the file you have downloaded to start the Screen Antics installer.
    • If you are asked whether you "want to allow the following program from an unknown publisher to make changes to this computer," click the "Yes" button.
    • If you get a message stating "Error creating process [...] The requested operation requires elevation" then please right-click on the johnnycastaway.exe file and choose "Run as administrator".
  2. Click "Next" to proceed, then click "I Agree" if you accept the terms of the license agreement.
  3. We recommend installing this screensaver to the default destination directory, which is your main Windows folder (on most computers, this is C:\Windows), so simply click "Next" again to continue.
  4. A Start Menu folder named "Screen Antics" will be created, from where you will be able to easily uninstall the screensaver in the future. You can optionally change the name of this folder before you click "Install" to begin copying all necessary files to your computer.
  5. Installation may take a few seconds, then click "Close" to exit the install program. You should now be able to find "Screen Antics" among your other screensavers.
    • If the screensaver fails to start and returns an error involving "[...] cannot start or run due to incompatibility with 64-bit versions of Windows," then your computer is equipped with a 64-bit version of the Windows operating system, and this (16-bit) screensaver cannot be started. Unfortunately, no 64-bit version of the Johnny Castaway screensaver is currently available.