The Programming Contest in the South Pacific Region was not the first programming contest in New Zealand; the New Zealand Programming contest started in 1986. Visiting lecturers from England said that there was already an international programming contest in existence, and we were invited to field a New Zealand team at the 1989 competition in Louisville, Kentucky, where the team finished equal 10th.

The winners of the New Zealand contest became eligible to compete in the Southern Californian Regional Contest. The University of Otago team went to Los Angeles and won, before going on to Washington DC for the 1990 final – which they won. The team received a standing ovation as it was the first time a non North American team had won the World Finals title.

The South Pacific region was formed with Australia joining New Zealand. Shortly afterwards, in 1992, a team from the University of Melbourne won the World Final.