Dave Dyer, one of the principals behind the F1 sent this in:

Foonly life story (short form, ddyer's recollection)

The original superfoonly was designed at Stanford, on an ARPA contract, but Dave Poole, Phil Pettit, and Jack Holloway. There was also a fourth whose role (I think) was to build the CAD system which was used for the design. He later went to work for DEC. DEC took the foonly design and lobotomized it, which became the KL10. The other three came to Triple-I with a proposal to build an updated version of the original design (using ECL instead of TTL). I'm not quite sure how it came about - pretty crazy idea - but the connections between triple-i and SAIL were deep and wide in those days. Triple-i was into using PDP-10s for OCR, and for their pathbreaking movie group, and had the usual grandiose plans requiring bigger and better computers.

So, the original three spent about a year designing, constructing, and debugging the F1. Poole was the mainstay, Pettit was around quite a bit, and Holloway appeared only at crucial moments. My impression was that triple-i paid the costs of construction and very little more - an incredible deal for triple-i, considering that the beast actually worked. It would have been a very expensive boat anchor if it hadn't. I did a lot of work on the software - console computer program, a second version of the microcode assembler, and a port of tops-10 to run on foonly itself; and spent many fine hours with Poole, deducing I-Box bugs from errant program behavior.

Shortly after the F1 was operational, triple-i and I parted ways and I mostly lost track of the F1. Triple-i got out of the movie biz; the F1 ended up following Gary Demos (which I guess is where you came in).

Foonly Inc carried on, building F2,3,4,&5 in various quantities for people who wanted pdp-10's but not to pay DEC's prices. The first few "little foonly" models were built from 2901 bitslices, based on a design originally intended to be the F1's console computer. Alas, I don't think the F1 ever had a proper console - it always had some KA-10 attached.

For more info, visit Dave Dyer' web page or send him email.
Back to the Foonly Page