Winners of the Seagate Billionth Drive 1K Competition


"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."

So was the challenge–the winner to receive a Terabyte hard drive from Seagate, which is celebrating is billionth sale–and so are the many fantastic entries. What better way to celebrate Terabyte-size hard drives than with a competition concerning tiny filesizes?

We hated judging this. So we picked out some extra prizes from the gadget dungeon to reward as many submissions as possible. Congratulations, everyone! Winners past the jump.The Robot Machine - Prize: Seagate hard drive.
Umrain's tiny snippet of javascript procedurally generates ASCII robots. The combination of simplicity, ingenuity, random output and pure cuteness finally won us over after days of rancorous debate.

TinyMona - Prize: M-Audio X-Session Pro USB mixing desk
Gabriel McGovern's minuscule rendering of Leonardo's Mona Lisa is a perfect summation of what the contest is about: making the most of limited resources. The distinctive character of a great work of art is somehow preserved in the smallest form. Take that, Fraunhofer institute! Mouseover the pic to zoom it.

Mandala Painting Applet - Prize: $10
Technogeek's entry is more than just a whiteboard, it takes the user's input and spins it into a psychedelic fury.

Two-minute procedural animation with music - Prize: $10
Stubbe's is stunning work, combining music and cutting-edge graphics. If you've got the machine to handle it, that is... Download it for Windows. For the rest of us, there's video.


Prizewinners, get in touch with me (rob at boing boing net) for your loot! Commiserations to everyone else -- happy hunting next time!

About Rob Beschizza

Follow Rob @beschizza on Twitter.
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22 Responses to Winners of the Seagate Billionth Drive 1K Competition

  1. technogeek says:

    I’m honored by the company I’m keeping; congrats to the other winners.

    As always, the real winning condition is “amuse the judges” … so the challenge is finding a twist on the idea that gives your entry some unique appeal. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to compete with Tiny Mona on pure artistic merit (that really is a nice job of digital miniature painting), so I went after the interactivity niche, trying to get the most “long-term play value” out of the available bytes.

    Interesting seeing what came out in what order. That may (or may not) imply a few hints on what’s likely to win in the future.

  2. technogeek says:

    Footnote: if I’d known you were interested in self-driven randomoutput more than interactive output, I think I coulda done that, via the same kind of momentum/well/random push which drives the color sequences. Didn’t quite have time to do that variant as well.

    Oh well; if I find time to do the enhanced version I can toss it in then.

  3. gabrielm says:

    Very cool – May I suggest the we make the next contest have something to do with audio 😉

  4. jennfrank says:

    Oh my crap, I keep refreshing this page to see more ASCII robots. (All of these are genius; congrats.)

  5. Thaddeus Smith says:

    Congrats guys, nicely done.

  6. zoink says:

    Help! I wanna see the animation, but the link to the video is broken…

  7. w000t says:

    Kudos, all! Huzzah, Umrain!

  8. bardfinn says:


  9. Rob Beschizza says:

    Video link’s fixed. It’s spectacular, worth the download.

  10. umrain says:

    OMG I will be able to fit soo much ASCII art on that hard drive. I mean I have been making ASCII robots for years (although i’ve been in a bit dormant lately) but I never thought I would win anything from it!

    But everyone really did a great job here. I was very impressed by most of the entries and it is a shame there couldn’t be more winners. In particular, the amount of thought and geeky detail that went into Advaranaut’s 3d message for aliens with tiny hard drives impressed me a lot (even though some of the explanation went over my head), and Michael W. Hyde’s short story really made me chuckle at the end. Also Technogeek’s Mandala app is really quite hypnotic.

  11. Rob Beschizza says:

    Yeah, Advaranaut’s 3d message made it hard to even pick 4 — his explanatory page alone is worth reading.

    The short story writers were completely stiffed too, unfortunately.

    So we’ll be doing more 1k competitions with more focused themes, I think.

  12. MadDuck says:

    Desperately wanted to vote for robot generator…glad that the powers that be agreed!

  13. semiotix says:

    What the–?! This is a travesty! My auto-generated ASCII robots were steampunk, for crying out loud!

  14. clueless in brooklyn says:

    this contest is why i am clueless in brooklyn, but it’s very intriguing being able to see into your wonderous geek world fascinations. I’d give you $10 for that.

  15. andvaranaut says:

    My congratulations to the winners! I have to say that the robot generator and Stubbe’s animation were my personal favorites, but everybody here did a great job. Kudos!

    I’m already waiting for the next contest… I’ll try something less obscure 😉

  16. foobar says:

    Hasn’t Seagate already been sued for using the incorrect definition of (kilo|mega|giga|)byte?

  17. Felix Mitchell says:

    Tiny mona is poor ass pixel art, man.

  18. stubbe says:

    Rob: I am not a native english speaker, so your use of the word spectacular throwns me a little off. Your use of the word seems to imply that something is worse than a downscaled version of mona lisa, robot ascii art and some random java applet. Understanding these subtle nuances in a language can be tough.

    I have no intention of collecting my prize, so give it to someone else or do whatever you please.

  19. andvaranaut says:

    Stubbe, I would say that the use of the word “spectacular” is both adequate and (rightly) very positive as for the quality of your work (“worthy of special notice” or “impressive” are common definitions for it).

    I don’t think that the rankings imply that your work is “worse” than any other. The judges had to choose between a lot of talented entries, and, since the quality of most entries was very similar, I suppose they ultimately chose the ideas that clicked with them the most (as Technogeek puts it, “amuse the judges” is always a very important point).

    I’m still awed at what you were able to get in 1K, though. My jaw dropped when I saw the video.

  20. smcross says:

    The procedurally-generated program is an example of software being written under very tight constraints. It’s #1 on the 1k chart.

    Though if you find that interesting, I recommend looking at some of the other charts. 4k is where things start to get interesting, and it seems as though almost anything can be done in 64k, given enough time and effort. There’s even an entire first-person shooter done in 96k!

  21. technogeek says:

    It shouldn’t be surprising to find that interesting things can be done in a few kilobytes. It SHOULD be surprising that people burn megabytes to achieve the same things. Similar comments apply to performance.

    Part of that comes from the desire to produce a lot of code quickly and cheaply. Driving software costs down has meant the industry is willing to use design practices which aren’t as efficient. We’ve gotten away with it because PCs have expanded their capability even faster… but essentially this is a matter of transferring some costs from the software to the hardware, and from the software developers to the folks buying the box to run it on. Which isn’t entirely unreasonable.

    But a lot of it is pure sloppiness, which software developers get away with because the typical PC user doesn’t know enough to object.

  22. Rob Beschizza says:

    Technogeek, I’m sending prizes out. Could you email your paypal or home address to me? rob at bb

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