The Screen Savers: The Rise and Fall of America’s Premiere Technology Show

In 1998, a new cable and satellite channel came into existence which featured news and shows about computers, the internet and technology as a whole. The network was founded by Ziff-Davis and originally called ZDTV. After being purchased by Vulcan Ventures, the network was renamed to TechTV. It had become wildly popular among technology enthusiasts. By 2003, TechTV had hit its prime. It was producing a number of great technology, including every computer geek’s favorite, The Screen Savers.
The Screen Savers was a mix of a technology news and features show, highlighting the latest personal computer technologies and industry news. In the first part of the show, the hosts would begin with a short commentary on the day’s news stories relating to technology. Following such, the show would often feature a question or two over what they called “the Netcam Network,” which was where a user would be live on webcam and call on the phone. Throughout the rest of the show, there would be various segments which included interviews, product reviews, download of the day, and coverage of special events. At the end of the show, the hosts would answer emails with any remaining time. Technology enthusiasts love it, it was the television show they had been waiting years for.

For many years, the show was hosted by Leo Laporte and Patrick Norton. However in mid 2004 Laporte announced he would be leaving the show to focus on his duties at Call for Help. Laporte was replaced by Kevin Rose, who at that time was doing features for the show. The new duo of Norton and Rose worked pretty well together.

Unfortunately, the ride came to an end in late 2004 when it was announced that Comcast had purchased TechTV from Vulcan Ventures and would be merging it with the video game network, G4. Longtime host Patrick Norton announced that he would not be part of the TechTV anymore after the merger. The show was going to be produced in Los Angeles and Norton decided that he wanted to stay in San Francisco. Norton was replaced by a new hire, Alex Albrecht.

After the merger, the show changed formats, leaving most of the technology content behind and instead adopting a video game and entertainment format. This left many of the show’s long time fans disappointed. On March 17th, 2005, The Screen Savers came to a quiet end, when the show’s executive produce Paul Block stated the shows run was over. On March 28th, A new show had taken its place called, “Attack of the Show”, which featured a very different format from the Screen Savers, and at that time many more loyal fans gave up on the network.

Many of the hosts have taken their work online. Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht create a weekly podcast called DiggNation. Patrick Norton and Robert Herron have somewhat recreated the idea of The Screen Savers in an online show called DL.TV, and Leo Laporte hosts the most downloaded podcast in the world, This Week in Tech, and many other shows.