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Computer challenge to mark Manchester moment

28 Feb 2008

Schoolchildren and sixth form students in Greater Manchester and beyond are being challenged to unleash their creative talents to celebrate a landmark moment in computing history.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the world's first stored program digital computer, which was designed and built at The University of Manchester.

On June 21st 1948, the small-scale experimental machine, also known as the 'Baby', made its first successful run of a program. It was the first machine that had all the components now classically regarded as characteristic of the basic computer.

As part of the celebrations to mark this historical event, The University of Manchester and partners in the city of Manchester are planning a number of activities under the banner 'Digital 60'.

The first of these is a computer animation competition with prizes including notebook PCs, digital cameras, mobile phones and MP3 players, and winning entries will be shown at a high-profile Animation Festival in Manchester later this year.

Students aged between seven and 19 are being challenged to create a short computer graphics film with a maximum running time of one minute using Alice, a free animation program that requires no knowledge of programming.

The animation can be on any subject, so long as it is inspired by material from the National or taught curriculum. For entrants over 16-years-old, curricula themes in any subject can be chosen.

Entries can come from individuals or teams in the following four categories; age 7-11, 11-14, 14-16 and 16-19.

Dr Toby Howard, in The School of Computer Science at The University of Manchester said: "The animation might tell a story, or explain or demonstrate something - the only limit is the students' imagination."

Digital 60 brings together stakeholders from across the city, including the University, Manchester City Council, Manchester Digital Development Agency and The Museum of Science and Industry.

The closing date for the competition - which has already attracted significant interest from schools and colleges across the UK - is 1 May 2008.

Entries will be reviewed by a panel of judges. The Animation Festival and awards ceremony will take place on Friday 20 June 2008 at The University of Manchester.

For further information and to register please see www.cs.manchester.ac.uk/Digital60/

The competition infrastructure is being supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), UK Research Council, Navis, IBM and Transitive.

Notes for editors

For more information please contact Bernard Strutt, External Affairs Manager, The School of Computer Science, Tel 0161 275 6140.