The Foonly F1 Computer

The F1 Cranking out Flight of the Navigator

Update: 12/25/96 Dave Dyer stumbled across the Foonly page and sent in his recollections. His info is here.
The F1 was originally built by Triple-I in hopes of getting a large contract with the Government for an Optical Character Recognition system. Its design became the DEC KL-10, but was built on five wire-wrap pages, that were machine wrapped. This meant that it was a one-of-a-kind system, a prototype that never went anywhere. It required a DEC KA-10 (5 tons of stuff that barely could do 1 MIP!) just to boot it! And when it was up, it probably ran at something like 6 MIPS. The Disk systems were old DEC washing-machine style drives that barely held 50Mb! And they crashed at least every month!

Here is a closeup view of the "Guts" of the F1. There were four "Pages", each machine wire-wrapped ECL on Augat standard PC forms. Since it was all ECL, the signals all ran twisted pair, and there was a theory that the machine failed frequently because of "cut through" from the many wires going around sharp corners. To the right you can see all the signal and power cables. Note the prominent air-conditioning outlet immediately beneath the pages!

The only remaining F1 project engineer who would fool with the F1 was Dave Poole, who lived up near Berkeley, and would occasionally dial in to help us with problems. He had instituted an upgrade program that was underway when Omnibus bought Digital Productions. Needless to say, that purchase brought all further work on the F1 to a halt. I heard that Jim Rapley and Intergon had hauled the F1 away and made movies with it for a while, but I have not been able to reach Jim to find out if this is so. Jim worked with me at Omnibus, and had worked with the F1 at Triple-I, as well as the Cray at Digital Productions.

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