Rasters have been around for a very long time, they have been here since the late 80s indeed along with other classic effects such as shadebobs , vectorballs or dots. But first of all I should remind you that the Atari ST was released more than 30 years ago and can only display 16 colours at once while PCs can display millions of colours. As it happens rasters are coloured horizontal bars, hence they have a direct impact on the viewer’s eye the way plasmas do :

First rasters ever? Taken from 1988 Power Demo by The Lost Boys.

The first thing about rasters bars is the technical treat achieved, showing so many colours simultaneously but I also think that if used properly they can bring a lot to a screen, looking pretty stylish too. It was seemingly harder to create vertical rasters even though we were offered some examples. In my mind they look even more beautiful  :

A wave of vertical rasters in a screen by  MJJ Prod. (1992)

Besides these two versions we can also find rasters that move diagonally or according to any angle coming out of a coder’s imagination. Coders also have the authority to choose colours and unfortunately it wasn’t so rare to find ugly dithering only using red, green or blue (what we actually call « coders colours » 🙂).

Note that this kind of effect was often seen on the rival of the Atari ST, namely the Amiga except that on Amiga, it was pretty easy to code thanks to an additional chip called « copper ». The two screenshots below respectively come from 1992  No Cooper demo by 1984 that rightfully finds it name from this little story and shows that skills can sometimes do better than hardware and the other example comes from 1992 Illusion STe screen by NeXT.

As you can see the right screenshot perfectly shows the wider screen gained thanks to overscan/fullscreen! It MAKES a big difference, doesn’t it?

These days the so popular rasters from the 90s are not to be found any more. Maybe we have seen too many of them. Maybe they would need some sort of an update. I don’t know but I sometimes miss them.

Luckily enough you can still spot them here and there in some demos such as the modest yet very enjoyable 2003 Mind Rewind demo by Reservoir Gods shows that nice colours do make a difference (thanks to Evil/DHS who captured the demo and uploaded the video). This prod is a nice 96Kb intro by the way. 🙂

A bit of variation can add a lot of depth ! (2003)

They were even celebrated with an upgrade in 2008 demo  More Or Less Zero by Dead Hackers Society :

We are offered both vertical and horizontal rasters and they even run in overscan! What a feast!

Time to put an end to this article with a few videos showing our beloved rasters. Let’s start with a tribute to 1991 Ooh Crickey Wot a Scorcher demo by The Lost Boys or more precisely with some reset screen :

Let’s now enjoy the skills demonstrated in No Cooper (1992) by 1984. Should you enjoy the show please stay till the end as the 18 minutes are worth it!

Following is an excerpt from 1992 Illusion STe screen by NeXT I talked about earlier. Note that the whole demo is displayed in overscan, a great plus !

Let’s continue with 2008 More or Less Zero demo in which rasters were offered a nice update (go directly to 3’27 for a second example) ! You can also find more info about this effect on this Wikipedia page !

Last but not least : a small but cool demo called 0010 1010 +1 by Newline released in 2018 features something like 3D rasters! Something we had never seen before! Enjoy them right below courtesy of our friend AtariCrypt!