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Penguins, fairies and physicists vie for creative prizes

11 Jun 2008

Dancing penguins, eco warrior fairies and cannonball-throwing physicists are all contenders to win prizes in a major animation competition – held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the birth of the modern computer.

Animation showing dancing penguins
Animation showing dancing penguins

School pupils from across the UK were challenged to unleash their creative talents for the University of Manchester’s Schools Computer Animation Competition 2008.

The shortlisted entries have been announced and include individual and group entries from schools up and down the country – including many from the Greater Manchester area.

Digital 60 Day on 20 June 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the world’s first stored program digital computer, which was designed and built at The University of Manchester by the late Professor Tom Kilburn and Freddie Williams.

Hundreds of pupils, sixth form students and teachers will gather at the University on Digital 60 Day to find out who has won the competition, which attracted over 200 highly entertaining and original entries.

Prof Steve Furber from The School of Computer Science, one of the designers of the original BBC Microcomputer, will present 33 prizes in four age categories. Notebook PCs, digital cameras, mobile phones and MP3 players are all up for grabs.

For the competition, students aged between seven and 19 were 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.

Winning entries, which were inspired by material from the National or taught curriculum, will be shown on Digital 60 Day.

Other highlights include a live video link from The University of Manchester to the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) for a demonstration of a working replica of The Baby, built for the 50th anniversary. There will also be a Computer Science Magic Show and a Program the Baby yourself interactive exhibit.

Prof Steve Furber from The School of Computer Science said: “Everyone is looking forward to Digital 60 Day, when the winners will be announced. We plan to build on the success of the competition next year and hope that even more children will take part and discover for themselves that computing can be interesting, intellectually stimulating and, most importantly, a lot of fun.”

“There seems to be a sense among the next generation that most of the exciting things in computing have already been done, but in reality nothing could be further from the truth. Progress in computing is continuing to accelerate, and computing is set to change the world we live in even more over the next 60 years than it has over the last 60.

“A quick look at the School’s research will illustrate just how rapidly things are moving forward, and why we need to encourage more of the brightest and best of the next generation to engage in the challenges facing computing over the coming decades.”

On 21 June 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.

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 (MOSI).

The animation competition has been supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), UK Research Council, Navis, IBM, Transitive, MOSI and the British Computer Society.

Notes for editors

To view further details of shortlisted entries and to download screenshots and animations please go to:

For more information please contact Alex Waddington, Media Relations Officer, The University of Manchester, on 0161 275 8387 / 07717 881569.