Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Stunning Results of 1K Programming Contest Recall PC Demos of Yore

On the Web, where speed still counts, contests to determine who can write the tightest possible code are reviving a dying art.

1024 bytes, not characters, is all programmers in the JS1k contest have to work with when creating demos of their HTML5 programming prowess. (For those of you used to measuring memory in gigabytes, that’s only enough bytes to describe about 0.3% of the pixels in an average laptop screen.) The results of the third annual JS1k contest are nothing short of fantastical. This year’s theme was the classic Apple II game Oregon Trail.

The winner, a physics simulator that puts you in control of the world’s longest, flexiest tapeworm, stretches the bounds of what seems possible in 1k of code – but that’s precisely the point. This challenge “tends to bring out the best in programmers,” says Martijn Laarman, lead developer at Dutch web development studio Poort80 and the creator of a piano rendered entirely with HTML5’s Canvas element. Laarman points out that JS1k is one of the many descendants of the “demo scene” that reached its apotheosis among certain geeks in the early 90’s.

If you were a nerdling with access to a BBS and a sufficiently powerful machine – a tricked-out 386 or, if you were lucky, a 486, Future Crew’s Second Reality demo was the ultimate demonstration of the power that could be squeezed from a PC when programming for it in low-level assembler.

Taking tenth in this year’s contest was an almost painfully clever take-off on the Geek comic of choice - XKCD. I won’t ruin it by trying to reproduce it here - go figure it out for yourself.

Deep Dive

Uncategorized

Our best illustrations of 2022

Our artists’ thought-provoking, playful creations bring our stories to life, often saying more with an image than words ever could.

How CRISPR is making farmed animals bigger, stronger, and healthier

These gene-edited fish, pigs, and other animals could soon be on the menu.

The Download: the Saudi sci-fi megacity, and sleeping babies’ brains

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology. These exclusive satellite images show Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway In early 2021, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia announced The Line: a “civilizational revolution” that would house up…

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.