Do you remember the first time you hit the degauss on a CRT?

Do you remember the first time you hit the degauss on a CRT?

Casting our minds back to a time when everything made more noise, yes, even our monitors.


Do you remember the first time you hit the degauss on a CRT? - image2
(Image credit: Sony)

Tʜᴇre ᴀʀᴇ loads ᴏꜰ thɪɴgs PC ɢᴀᴍᴇrs ᴜsed ᴛᴏ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴅᴏ ᴛᴏ ᴀᴄᴛuᴀʟʟy pʟᴀʏ ɢᴀᴍᴇs. Thɪɴgs thᴀᴛ sᴇᴇm ᴄᴏᴍᴘʟᴇᴛᴇly preᴘᴏsᴛeroᴜs ᴛᴏ ᴜs ᴛᴏᴅᴀʏ. Pᴀssᴛʜʀᴏᴜɢʜ cᴀʙʟᴇs ꜰʀᴏᴍ yᴏᴜʀ Mᴀᴛrox 2D graphics ᴄᴀʀd ᴛᴏ yᴏᴜʀ 3dfx Vooᴅᴏo2 sᴏ thᴀᴛ ʏᴏᴜ ᴄᴏᴜʟᴅ pʟᴀʏ Tomb Raider (ɪᴛ wᴀs tʜᴇ pɪɴnacle, mᴀɴ). And tʜᴇre's a ᴄᴇʀᴛᴀɪɴ sᴄʜᴏᴏʟ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴏᴜɢʜt thᴀᴛ sᴀʏs unʟᴇss ʏᴏᴜ've ʜᴀᴅ ᴛᴏ pʟᴀʏ aʀᴏᴜɴᴅ wɪᴛh HIMEM.SYS ɪɴ MS-DOS, tʜᴇn cᴀɴ ʏᴏᴜ reᴀʟʟy cᴀʟʟ yᴏᴜʀsᴇʟꜰ a PC ɢᴀᴍᴇr (ʏᴇs, ʏᴏᴜ absᴏlutely cᴀɴ, thᴀᴛ wᴀs a ridiculoᴜs tiᴍᴇ thᴀᴛ ᴡᴇ sʜᴏᴜʟᴅ ᴀʟʟ ᴛʀʏ ᴀɴd ꜰᴏʀɢᴇᴛ).

One thing that is sure to reignite old, tired synapses though, was brought up by this recent tweet: 

Did anyone else love hitting the “Degauss” button on their monitor?May 12, 2020

Ah, the simple joys of degaussing a CRT monitor. Those of us that are old enough will be able to hear it just from reading the words. Even watching the short clip below was enough to convince me that my old CRT screen was, in many ways, actually better than it really was. 

And yes, degaussing is something we had to do now and again just to stop our screens from warping. That and handling physical media, because our internet connections sounded like we were torturing robots.

Younger readers are probably sitting there wondering what the hell is going on here, I know our Jacob certainly is. Essentially CRT monitors work by magic, but of the scientific kind you can wrap your head around. CRTs work by firing electrons at a phosphor screen, through something called a shadow mask. Now this mask could get magnetised, which would subsequently warp the image being produced. 

That's why you needed to degauss. When you hit the 'Degauss' button, it passes a high current through a coil around this mask, which resets the magnetic field, and stops the warping. 

And it goes a little something like this:

The electronic buzz, that shuddering, wibbly image. It all harks back to a different time, at once more simple and yet somehow more sci-fi. Try and make a flat screen monitor wobble like that and you'll be picking liquid crystals out of the carpet for weeks.

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