I am looking for an application that runs in Windows 3.1 and will save the screen to a video file on a disk.

I know Windows 3.1 had a extension called Win32s, which is a subset of the Win32 API and will run some NT 3.x and 9x applications; an application that works under Win32s is fine.

If there is nothing, then I will use an emulator like DOSBox or a VGA capture card.

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    I think the only option is likley to be an emulated environment and to capture the output of that. Not sure what capture options existed back then, but I suspect they'd have involved recording the video output, not doing anything in software - the computers typically didn't have the grunt for that kind of thing!
    – Matt Lacey
    Commented Aug 2, 2021 at 4:56
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    Win32s lacked support for threads which I believe is a must for any screen recording software. @MattLacey computing power, in theory, would be less of a problem because screen recording software could have used a lossless video codec such as huffyuv (but, then, disk space could have easily become a limiting factor :) )
    – DmytroL
    Commented Aug 2, 2021 at 7:12
  • @DmytroL Intercepting WM_PAINT with SetWindowsHookEx should be enough, no threading required. Commented Aug 2, 2021 at 9:08
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    @user3840170 For capturing the pixels - yes, that would be a smart approach! Still, given that there are no background threads, I believe that code responsible for encoding and saving video would have had to be executed within the same hook, (unless Windows 3.1 had some other means for executing code in the background - in which case the captured pixels could have been buffered in the RAM and then encoded and written to disk in the backgound)?
    – DmytroL
    Commented Aug 2, 2021 at 9:32
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    @DmytroL WM_TIMER, with a handler that encodes frames until either the buffer is empty or a fixed amount of time (~100 ms?) passes, whichever comes first? Alternatively, DOS boxes in 386 Enhanced Mode are preemptively multitasked… Commented Aug 2, 2021 at 10:00

1 Answer 1


There was Lotus ScreenCam, which was initially released for Windows 3. It used its own SCM format, which only recorded events and optional audio. Later versions (I’m not sure which, or whether this was ever available in a Windows 3- or Win32s-compatible version) could convert SCM videos to Flash. Here’s a screenshot of ScreenCam 2, which is included in Lotus SmartSuite 4.0:

ScreenCam main window and ScreenCam Help

This review of ScreenCam 2.0 gives a good overview of its capabilities.

As others have mentioned, Windows 3-era computers weren’t powerful enough to record full-screen videos in real time — they lacked the CPU power to compress in real time, and the disk capacity to store uncompressed video.

Your suggestion to use DOSBox is probably the simplest option nowadays!

(ScreenCam is still available for current versions of Windows, published by SmartGuyz.)

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    I wonder if you could use ScreenCam to make the .EXE recording, and then transfer and play the file on a modern computer which you could then screen capture. A bit more effort, but would produce an authentic result!
    – kgutwin
    Commented Aug 2, 2021 at 13:47

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