blinking lights

Aris/Oxford Computer Group
Holiday Screen Savers
courtesy of The Beinlichs !

Sharon and Mason in 2004 Brian and Mason in 2004

Decorative Rule

What's this page all about?

This is the story of a small piece of software history.   The screen savers on this page were originally developed by a British software consulting company called the Oxford Computer Group (OCG) .  The screen savers have always been a real source of enjoyment to my family and me, and are a special part of every holiday season.

As you will learn, they have become harder to find over the years, and no site seems to have a complete collection.  I want them to continue to be available to others, so I have created this archive.

First, some history

(Note: This is an abbreviated version of the history that may be found at Camel Services's archive.  That page has a good history of the companies, as well as some technical information about the screen savers.  I highly recommend reading it if this saga interests you.  If the above link should fail, I have archived their page here.)

When I discovered the screen savers in 1998, OCG was known as Aris, Inc.  OCG/Aris apparently developed them as an advertising vehicle to show off their software development skills.  The screen savers are of good quality, and were sophisticated for their time.  There are versions for the 1994 through 2000 holiday seasons, and some early versons were reissued in 2003 and 2004.

A few years ago, Aris was purchased by another company, and the once-prominent screensavers became progressively more difficult to find on their web site.  And then they were gone.

Every holiday season, I searched the Internet for the screensavers I didn't have, to no avail.  Finally, in late 2004, I discovered the Oxford Computer Group, who had an archive of these very special screen savers.  And I filled in a few of the missing pieces.  But in 2005, even their archive was gone.  (It has reappeared in 2006.)

Searching again in 2007, I found another archive, this one provided by Camel Services Ltd. in Britain.  Camel Services worked with OCG and Aris on some of the screen savers, and their archive page has a good collection of the screen savers along with the history I mentioned above.

However, even their archive is not complete.  And while I wish the folks at Camel Services all the success in the world, the reality is that companies and their managers do come and go, and along with them go web sites and archives of old "unimportant" stuff such as holiday screen savers, no matter how special.

So even though my archive isn't complete either, I felt that I should help to preserve these historic screen savers by creating my own archive.  So here it is.  I have copied the table from Camel's archive, updated it, and replaced the links to files on my own server, so that I can be sure the files won't disappear in the future.

Details and disclaimers

You are welcome to download and enjoy these special screen savers, as they seem to be in the public domain.  I am reproducing the disclaimer from Camel's site below:

Note that these savers are designed to run during December, and that (with the exception of the Grotto) they develop day by day during the month. Please be careful if you change your computer date (especially if you are a corporate user, in which case you may not be able to).

The savers may be downloaded, used and distributed (unchanged) freely.  Camel Services has [and I have] the savers here for "posterity" and take NO RESPONSIBILITY for consequences of their use. The contact details (in readme files and About boxes etc.) and similar details are out of date.

And now... the screen savers!

I last scanned these files for viruses on December 2, 2012 using Zone Alarm and MalwareBytes anti-virus scanners.   I recommend that you scan anything you download from the Internet before you install it.  And in case it's not obvious... these run only on Windows.  As time goes on, though, they do become a bit crankier.  I've run the Toy Shop and Village Life on Windows 7, although the Toy Shop can cause some minor inconveniences.  See the notes below.

Please read the release notes that accompany each screen saver; they contain important information.  If you have any problems with these files, you're pretty much on your own.  But you can contact me if you wish.

I hope you enjoy these screen savers as much as we have.  I hope you will find, as I have, that the hardest part is deciding which one to run!!  Mason's favorite is the Toy Shop, and my favorites are Village Life and the Victorian Room.

Happy Holidays!


Corporate Identity
Bits, Platforms, and Install method
Download (includes readme file)
Online Readme
Advent House
Advent 1994 preview Oxford Computer Group Ltd 16bit Not available
(see below for 2004 rebuild)
Victorian Room
Victorian Room preview Oxford Computer Group Ltd 16 bit, but rereleased (with enhancements) as 32 bit in 1999 (see below for 2nd ed.)
.scr 4,905 KB
.zip  890 KB
No readme file
Courtesy of UK's Peter Humphreys!
Santa's Grotto
Santa's Grotto preview Oxford Computer Group Ltd 16 bit, self-extracting .exe file, no installer (see readme), tested for Windows 3, 95 and NT3. Not available
(see below for 2nd ed.)
NSPCC Happy Kids
Preview not available
Oxford Computer Group Ltd and Microsoft UK 16 bit, self-extracting .exe file, no installer (see readme),  tested for Windows 3, 95 and NT3. 215KB Click to read
Advent Castle
Advent Castle preview Oxford Computer Group Ltd in transition to "Aris UK" 32 bit, self-extracting .exe file, no installer (see readme), tested for Windows 95, NT3 and 4 1,235 KB Click to read
Village Life
Village Life preview "Aris UK" 32 bit, with installer, tested for Windows 95 and 98 and NT4 2,955 KB Click to read
Victorian Room (2nd Ed.)
Victorian Room preview ARIS 32 bit, with installer, tested for Windows 95 and 98 and NT4 2,360 KB Click to read
Toy Shop
Toy Shop preview ARIS Multimedia 6,449 KB
Click to read
2001 to 2002
  Various None Produced - -
Kaleidoscope preview Oxford Computer Group Ltd 32 bit for XP, 2000, 98 and 95. 2,606 KB Click to read
Santa's Grotto (2nd Ed.)
Santa's Grotto preview Oxford Computer Group Ltd 32 bit for XP, 2000, 98 and 95. 1,285 KB Click to read
Advent House (from 1994)
Advent House preview Oxford Computer Group Ltd Rebuilt for XP, 2000, 98 and 95 without any updates 152 KB Click to read

Sample properties dialog box Notes about running the Toy Shop under Windows 7

The other savers are not .exe files, so (to my knowledge) you can't use these tricks with them.

Last updated: December 2, 2012.

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