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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
funny money
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Notional units of computing time and/or storage handed to
students at the beginning of a computer course; also called
"play money" or "purple money" (in implicit opposition to real
or "green" money).
In New Zealand and Germany the odd usage "paper money" has
been recorded; in Germany, the particularly amusing synonym
"transfer ruble" commemorates the funny money used for trade
between COMECON countries back when the Soviet Bloc still
When your funny money ran out, your account froze and you
needed to go to a professor to get more. Fortunately, the
plunging cost of time-sharing cycles has made this less
common. The amounts allocated were almost invariably too
small, even for the non-hackers who wanted to slide by with
minimum work. In extreme cases, the practice led to
small-scale black markets in bootlegged computer accounts. By
extension, phantom money or quantity tickets of any kind used
as a resource-allocation hack within a system.