/p*-nam'bik/ (From the scene in the film, "The Wizard of Oz" in which the true nature of the wizard is first discovered: "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain"). A term coined by Daniel Klein <[email protected]> for a stage of development of a process or function that, owing to incomplete implementation or to the complexity of the system, requires human interaction to simulate or replace some or all of its actions, inputs or outputs. The term may also be applied to a process or function whose apparent operations are wholly or partially falsified or one requiring prestidigitization.

The ultimate pnambic product was "Dan Bricklin's Demo", a program which supported flashy user-interface design prototyping.

There is a related maxim among hackers: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo." See magic for illumination of this point.

["Open Channel", IEEE "Computer", November 1981].

[Jargon File]

Last updated: 1994-11-01

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