I barely see my desktop these days, and I don't care much what it looks like. I stick a nice wallpaper on it and clear out the mess of images I've saved to it every few months, and the rest of the time it's covered by Chrome, Slack, and other windows. But 10 or 15 years ago, I obsessed over my desktop.
I downloaded an application so I could rotate the wallpaper every 15 minutes and spent hours downloading the coolest video game wallpapers and abstract digital art pieces I could find. Yes, there were anime wallpapers with dramatic quotes on them. And I loved to curate my icons. My most vivid desktop memory is of arranging my desktop icons around the outer border of my screen in the early 2000s (a 4:3 CRT, naturally) and using a wallpaper of Link from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Sadly, I don't have any screenshots of my desktop from that era, but I've done my best to recreate it above.
Most of the icons you'll see there are pulled from my old backups, including great files like "AnimeInfo.doc" and "Douglas Adams quotes.doc." Also, I had a Pink Panther applet that made him walk around on the screen. Man, that was cool. I re-installed AIM and Netscape Navigator for this shot, and somehow the files from Netscape circa 2003 are still hosted on a live FTP server. That is weird.
My desktop back then didn't have as many files—it was pretty much all applications—and every time I wanted to add a new one, something had to go. The perfect border of icons was not to be broken. I don't think I gave it up until I switched computers.
If you were similarly fanatical about your desktop in the old days, share your stories (or even better, screenshots) in the comments and reminisce.
And show us how you like to keep your desktop now. Is it still fastidiously kept? Are you running cool customization? Or did you give up on customizing your desktop like me and just cover it up?