1K Competition: Seagate ships billionth drive, and we've got one for you

1 kilobyte. 1 kibibyte. 1 kilobit. 1,000 ASCII characters. Source code, file size, tile size, the number of letters in a short story: you decide. Use your imagination. Give us a thousand of whatever you want. A 1,000 byte JPG, MP3 or textfile. Need a little extra? 1,024 will do, we’re not religious. We’re cool. Just make it 1K of awesome, k? Thanks to Seagate Technologies, which just shipped its billionth drive, one of you will get enough space to store your work a billion times over: a Terabyte hard drive. If every drive it ever sold was put together, Seagate says, there'd be enough space to store 79 million terabytes (75 exabytes). It took three decades to do so, but thinks it will double that number in less than 5 years. Making the most of limited space is the theme of the competition, however. It’s no good giving us 1k of actionscript glued to assets that mock the metric. If you write us a short story, 1,000 letters will trump 1,000 words. On the other hand, if your 1K of source code ends up as a 3MB executable thanks to unavoidable embedded runtimes, worry not. So long as your rationale is clear, we won’t be sticklers. The one rule is that whatever you do should be under a license that permits us to use your work at BBG without issue. GPL or Creative Commons licenses are suggested. (This is in lieu of the traditional option, where you submit this sort of stuff to a contest and then lose all rights to it.) Link to your entry from the comments (or even just post it there!) and fire off an email to beschizza#gmail.com. We'll cycle back in a week and start picking the winners. (P.S. The Seagate logo up top? Too big. It's 1,025 bytes!) Update: Gabriel McGovern reminds that you can slim down PNGs very easily. Note that we're OK with using zip files or other "containers" to crunch something down, but will be more impressed by those who use cleverer compression methods like McGovern's

About Rob Beschizza

Rob Beschizza is the Managing Editor of Boing Boing. He's @beschizza on Twitter and can be found on Facebook too. Try your luck at besc...@gmail.com  
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41 Responses to 1K Competition: Seagate ships billionth drive, and we've got one for you

  1. andvaranaut says:

    By the way, very cool entries everyone. I specially liked Bardfinn’s short story and W000T’s entry (very funny :))

  2. Camillo Miller says:

    Hey Rob ? Is the contest open to the Eurodorks like I am? Or we have to struggle along with our subterabytian retrofuturistic drives we bought with our very money?

  3. DeWynken says:

    Of course a HD maker would encourage the concept of bloatware!

    My first drive was a Western Digital 40 meg and I thought it’d be all the room I *ever* needed.

  4. Rob Beschizza says:

    Camillo, Seagate didn’t place any conditions at all on shipping (and if they do, I’ll ask them to ship it our way and we’ll forward to Europe)

  5. stubbe says:

    Hi everybody

    Here is my contribution: http://daimi.au.dk/~stubbe/tbc/tracie.exe

    It is a two minute procedural animation with music. The visuals are made using a pixelshader 3.0 shader and the music is just some midi notes. Everything squeezed into this self-contained executable using my own cruncher :)

    To run this you will obviously need a pixelshader 3.0 capable graphics card. You will also need a fairly recent version of the directx runtime (more recent than febuary 2005). Note that it is not distributed using windowsupdate, but if you have any of the more recent games installed you probably already have it. If not, here is the download link: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=2da43d38-db71-4c1b-bc6a-9b6652cd92a3&displaylang=en

    If everything else fails, here is a video for people with legacy hardware: http://www.daimi.au.dk/~stubbe/tbc/tbc_-_tracie.avi

  6. wastrel says:

    Loving these entries, more please.

    I propose an annual 1K competition. Perhaps on October 24th? (1024 in the US at least.)

  7. wastrel says:

    Showing less artistic talent than Gabriel M., but more pandering to the judges, here’s my entry.



    1024 bytes
    32×32 = 1024 pixels
    gif comment: 1024
    runtime 512 * 2 = 1024 hundredths of a second (10.24 seconds)

    I loved the “Word TV” feature on word.com back in the early days of the web. This is my small homage to the pioneering GIF artists who braved the wild Internet of that era.

  8. romulusnr says:

    Thaddeus, I found 11.

  9. w000t says:


  10. romulusnr says:

    Make that 12.

  11. gabrielm says:

    Thanks for the nod, Rob.

    Here is my real entry: Tiny Mona

    I decided to create an image – a 1K reproduction of the famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci.

    * Image Size: 25×40 = 1000 pixles
    * File Size: Exactly 1000 Bytes

    And yes, I used PngSlim for maximum compression. It actually took a lot of trial-and-error to get exactly 1K.

  12. umrain says:

    I hope this doesn’t somehow post twice, but here is my entry:

    A 1,000 byte javascript Mini-Robot-Factory that produces 1,000 tiny ASCII robots. (Inspired by Tomy Pocket Games Robot Factory.)

    There are two versions, both each 1,000 bytes.

    Version 1: Randomly produces a single robot out of 1,000 possibilities. Keep refreshing the page for nigh endless fun.

    Version 2: Generates all 1,000 robots on a single page. Not as fun, but it makes up for it in volume.

    A slightly more detailed (and whimsical) write-up can be found here.

  13. cha0tic says:

    Bloody Hell! That’s around 2 years of music according to the capacity indicator on their Website.

  14. cayton says:

    Pi to one thousand digits (that is counting the first 3):


    digits courtesy of:
    (no affiliation)

  15. cayton says:

    crap, here is an easier method:

  16. Comedian says:

    A tiny illusion file I made years ago.
    Works best when a browser resizes it, but here it is native.

  17. iq says:

    hi, this is my little contribution. It’s a self-contained Windows executable showing an animated tunnel effect. It’s written in C, it can be downloaded from


    You just need a pixel shader 2.0 capable graphics card (any one form ATI or nVidia no older than 4 years should do it).


  18. Rob Beschizza says:

    Thank you all again for your entries. We’re astonished by the quality and ingenuity that’s gone into them. It’ll be hard to pick the best out tomorrow: I might do a poll, in fact.

  19. Rob Beschizza says:

    Airship — So send in 200 words! (keep it under 1025 characters :) )

  20. bademailname says:

    “Today on the NewYou.com hour our guest is scientist, author – and until a recent press release, recluse – Doctor Joeseph Veriton. Thank you for coming on our show.”

    “I’m delighted to be here, thank you for having me.”

    “Doctor Veriton, how did you manage to encode an entire human genome into a single kilobyte?”

    “The short answer is compression. The long answer is I didn’t; the DNA did.”

    “Could you describe for us the theory behind it?”

    “Sure. DNA has four ingredients, and those ingredients are mapped in a series in order to create the infamous double helix. What happens is: incredibly complex patterns begin to emerge, so complex that we can’t see them — but protein-based computers can, because they contain many if not all the same patterns, but in a different order. We don’t encode the genome, we encode the patterns. The protein can ‘unzip’ the pattern, using itself as a sort of template.”

    “And what is your proof, doctor?”

    With a nod, three more Doctors Veriton walked on, stage right.

    This work by Michael W. Hyde is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

    Link to entry

  21. andvaranaut says:

    Very nice idea!

    I have finally written the explanation page for my (rather convoluted) entry, you can see it here.

  22. airship says:

    The old adage says “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” Since the average word length in English is 5.1 letters (http://blogamundo.net/lab/wordlengths/), that means a 1024-byte picture is worth approximately 200 words. So show me a 1024-byte image that conveys as much information as 200 well-chosen words.

    Yes, I’m a writer, not an artist. :)

  23. Aubrey says:

    I’ve implemented a pretty functional paint program in exactly 1000 bytes of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. It’s happy in FF and Safari. IE probably won’t parse it though.

    “Features” include selecting colors and even an eraser. I had brush sizing going too, but it wouldn’t make 1k.

    A slow click-and-drag makes for the clearest lines and a fast click-and-drag might be good for a little paint splatter action circa 1995.

    Hope you like.


  24. Anonymous says:

    effect with Actionscript, 1,013bytes:

    source code:

    seems to work only on Windows tho…

  25. wastrel says:

    Ah, license and attribution for “aBBGecedary”.

    Modified from the Boing Boing Gadgets logo you see at the top of the page. License is http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

    Also, I forgot the basic description: it’s an animated GIF, with 1 repeat. Reload to re-start the cycle.

  26. Thaddeus Smith says:

    good to see that someone doesn’t always stop when they’re told to :D

  27. Anonymous says:

    Is that 2^30 = 1073741824 drives, 1000000000 drives, or 938271838 drives after formatting?

  28. technogeek says:

    Bad-joke warning:

    Use the original (reflection) version of my toy to draw a pair of adjacent half-ovals, Decorate appropriately. Watch the color changes ripple through it.


    “This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

  29. bardfinn says:

    Frink was breathless: “It happened while I was testing a batch of the new Giant MagnetoResistive tech; I’d initialised the platter with zeroes and then read it back to verify. The qual script flagged it as a write failure, but with an incredibly high failure perce-”

    Johnson interrupted: “Cut to the chase, man – you’re saying the run was contaminated.”

    “No – no sir, it’s not that at all. I dug through the log fil-”

    “So if it’s not contamination then it’s the test equipmen-”

    Frink spoke uncharacteristically louder: “NO, sir, let me finish: I checked the log files. It’s reading back the same values every. single. time. No matter /what/ we write to the platters.”

    “… So?”

    “At first, we thought it was random noise – but it turns out to be twenty-two digits from the deeply insignificant depths of Pi, sir, followed by seven others.”

    The room went really quiet.

    Terwilliger drew breath and said “Followed by one through ten, right?”

    “A thousand, sir. Binary counting.”

    Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/

  30. Rob Beschizza says:

    Excellent work, everyone!

  31. gabrielm says:

    P.S. The Seagate logo up top? Too big. It’s 1,025 bytes!

    Well just hold on a minute Rob…

    Thats a PNG. Did you remember to crunch it? I bet that it is full of unnecessary metadata. Reordering the bits would probably help a little too!

    Thanks to a little program called PngSlim, that image is now only 799 bytes. Thats a loss of 226 bytes or 28%. All without changing a single pixel.

    You could now fit 275,954,704 more of them on that 1 Terabyte drive.

  32. technogeek says:

    Followup: Turns out that my applet is less responsive on Linux than on Windows. It does improve after you’ve played with it a bit (delayed JIT optimization?), but even so I have to admit it isn’t as pretty. May be tweakable; may be an artifact of the differences between PM and X. Investigating.

  33. Rob Beschizza says:

    Great work, everyone. I’ll be putting up a gallery of entries tomorrow and figuring out a winner.

  34. technogeek says:

    My entry can be found at http://www.lovesong.com/people/keshlam/1Kchallenge.html

    It’s a simple Java “mandala painting” applet, whose source code has been hammered down to 978 bytes. I still hope to get the executable below the 1K mark too, but I don’t think I’m going to achieve that before the deadline. Conversely, there are features which I’d like to add to make this even more addictive… but they’d push me over the 1K mark so I can’t include them in this version.

    I’ve done transfinite amounts of Java coding, but unlike most folks I’ve been using it as a traditional programming language rather than doing GUI stuff — most of my Java code has been back-end utilities. I think this is the first applet I’ve written in the past decade. Thanks for the excuse to play!

  35. andvaranaut says:

    This is so cool :)

    Here is my entry (direct link to the file)

    As of now, there is no explanation (there are some hints, though), so you can try your hand at determining what it is if you want a challenge. I will build a nice explanation page shortly (before the week expires, of course) and put it up for you to see.


  36. technogeek says:

    Am I allowed to submit two entries? If not, then my first entry remains the official one; I sent it in first. But…

    By moving just a few characters (same code size), it’s possible to configure my code to produce rotational symmetry rather then reflection symmetry. You can see the result at http://testwww.lovesong.com/people/keshlam/1Kalternate.html

    (Yeah, I know; I really ought to get both these effects into a single 1K block of code. Still working on that. I’ve got 22 bytes left; it certainly ought to be possible…)

  37. Rob Beschizza says:

    Thanks, recent entrants! It’s great to see coders getting in on it, too.

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