PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The students started collecting the supplies in January: 10,000 Christmas lights, 3,000 feet of cable, wooden frames and circuit boards.
They debugged the computer code, then ran cables along 10 floors of a 14-story building. Last week, the games began.
Gathering after dark, this group of Brown University students has been tapping out commands on a keyboard to move blocks of light from one story to the next in a giant Tetris game they built on the side of the school's sciences library.
''I was really nervous and excited and overjoyed all at once,'' said senior Soren Spies, one of the students who developed the setup. ''Something we have been dreaming about for years had literally come to fruition.''
Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer, who befriended the students in December when he spoke at the school, flew in from his Los Gatos, Calif., home to see the installation and was impressed.
''I think it was just the most incredible one-day thing I could imagine in my life,'' Wozniak said Friday. ''Like Steve Jobs (Apple co-founder) always said, the journey is the reward.''
''It made me think of projects we did back in college. Things that were almost undoable that other people wouldn't think of doing,'' Wozniak said.
Wozniak said he's looking for a building in the Silicon Valley area for a similar tech-house, live-work dwelling.
Tetris is a popular video game in which players maneuver blocks of different shapes into tight spaces. The object is to position the pieces so they make complete rows, which will then disappear.
The Brown students said a combination of addiction to the game and the search for a technological challenge inspired the idea to turn the library into a giant video display screen.
''Most of us had Tetris on our calculators in high school,'' said Dan Morris, a senior neuroscience major, who was among the group that built the game.
Using the Linux operating system, the students wrote their own software code to play the game and communicate with the hardware, which they built.
Over spring break last month, they wired the library, running cables through an unused dumbwaiter shaft that runs the height of the building. At each floor, wires snake across ceilings and walls to the south side of the building, where they are attached to suspended Christmas lights.
The cables are connected to a plug into a computer, which is stored in a third-floor library closet. To play, students stand on the steps of an adjacent building where one computer is linked, through the Internet, to the other inside the library.
The project cost about $750.
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