the Super Foonly project at the

Found at: sdf.org:70/computers/pdp10/foonly

:Foonly: n. 1. The {PDP-10} successor that was to have been built by
   the Super Foonly project at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence
   Laboratory along with a new operating system.  The intention was to
   leapfrog from the old DEC timesharing system SAIL was running to a
   new generation, bypassing TENEX which at that time was the ARPANET
   standard.  ARPA funding for both the Super Foonly and the new
   operating system was cut in 1974.  Most of the design team went to
   DEC and contributed greatly to the design of the PDP-10 model KL10.
   2. The name of the company formed by Dave Poole, one of the
   principal Super Foonly designers, and one of hackerdom's more
   colorful personalities.  Many people remember the parrot which sat
   on Poole's shoulder and was a regular companion.  3. Any of the
   machines built by Poole's company.  The first was the F-1 (a.k.a.
   Super Foonly), which was the computational engine used to create
   the graphics in the movie "TRON".  The F-1 was the fastest
   PDP-10 ever built, but only one was ever made.  The effort drained
   Foonly of its financial resources, and they turned towards building
   smaller, slower, and much less expensive machines.  Unfortunately,
   these ran not the popular {TOPS-20} but a TENEX variant called
   Foonex; this seriously limited their market.  Also, the machines
   shipped were actually wire-wrapped engineering prototypes requiring
   individual attention from more than usually competent site
   personnel, and thus had significant reliability problems.  Poole's
   legendary temper and unwillingness to suffer fools gladly did not
   help matters.  By the time of the Jupiter project cancellation in
   1983 Foonly's proposal to build another F-1 was eclipsed by the
   {Mars}, and the company never quite recovered.  See the
   {Mars} entry for the continuation and moral of this story.

:Mars: n. A legendary tragic failure, the archetypal Hacker Dream
   Gone Wrong.  Mars was the code name for a family of PDP-10
   compatible computers built by Systems Concepts (now, The SC Group);
   the multi-processor SC-30M, the small uniprocessor SC-25M, and the
   never-built superprocessor SC-40M.  These machines were marvels of
   engineering design; although not much slower than the unique
   {Foonly} F-1, they were physically smaller and consumed less
   power than the much slower DEC KS10 or Foonly F-2, F-3, or F-4
   machines.  They were also completely compatible with the DEC KL10,
   and ran all KL10 binaries, including the operating system, with no
   modifications at about 2--3 times faster than a KL10.
   When DEC cancelled the Jupiter project in 1983, Systems Concepts
   should have made a bundle selling their machine into shops with a
   lot of software investment in PDP-10s, and in fact their spring
   1984 announcement generated a great deal of excitement in the
   PDP-10 world.  TOPS-10 was running on the Mars by the summer of
   1984, and TOPS-20 by early fall.  Unfortunately, the hackers
   running Systems Concepts were much better at designing machines
   than in mass producing or selling them; the company allowed itself
   to be sidetracked by a bout of perfectionism into continually
   improving the design, and lost credibility as delivery dates
   continued to slip.  They also overpriced the product ridiculously;
   they believed they were competing with the KL10 and VAX 8600 and
   failed to reckon with the likes of Sun Microsystems and other
   hungry startups building workstations with power comparable to the
   KL10 at a fraction of the price.  By the time SC shipped the first
   SC-30M to Stanford in late 1985, most customers had already made
   the traumatic decision to abandon the PDP-10, usually for VMS or
   UNIX boxes.  Most of the Mars computers built ended up being
   purchased by CompuServe.
   This tale and the related saga of Foonly hold a lesson for hackers:
   if you want to play in the Real World, you need to learn Real World