The BlackBird MacroComputer Project

Tony Hollick (
Tue, 26 Aug 97 21:54 BST-1

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'The Blackbird Project'
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[This isn't an advertisement, by the way: it's a request for participation ]

I own an Atari Falcon (1993), which I use for everything I do now.

I bought it in mint condition, for UKP 100 from a private forensics
science consultant on CIX -- -- whose pride and joy it
was. It's essentially a modest single-board 'supercomputer.'

It was the last of Atari Corporation's own home computers. It's a
computer buff's machine.

It's a multimedia, desktop publishing, graphic arts (I've got APEX), games
and educational and business and Internet platform. There are tens of
thousands of solid programmes and utilities for it _for free_, and a
thriving worldwide network of Atari computing enthusiasts.

It has the German NVDI which triples the display speed, with beautifully
scaleable font selections.

Atari Corporation is now defunct -- bad marketing and financial management.

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This is the 'Great Idea':

The Falcon looks like a big, slightly boxy but elegant standalone
keyboard. That's it! It outputs RF or video direct to TV, or to a mono
monitor, or a graphics-quality monitor. It operates in up to 65,000
colours from a palette of 262,144.

[ OK, Russell, it's not a Silicon Graphics WorkStation! ]

It runs Motorola 680x0 processors (CD Hades clones run 68060s).

It has a solid OS and GIU, develooped from Digital Research's CP/M 68K in
250k. of ROM, and it ordinarily has 1 to 14 megs of RAM. You can do the
Internet on a 1 meg. Falcon! (On a 1 meg ST with a single floppy,
actually. There are nice integrated WWW suites in just 250k of code. I've
worked run thiogs this way! Quite feasible, if a bit heavy on
disk-swapping, though).

It loads the OS and GUI into RAM, and puts you straight to
the desktop with no disks at all!

(The Germans at Magic! have an even more compact pre-emptive multi-tasking
operating OS and GUI for it, coded in hand-optimized Motorola assembler,
which is taught in European technical colleges, and running up to five
times faster).

It has full 32Mhz. 56001 DSP facilities, enabling downloadable SoftModems
and protocol upgrades. EXTERNAL I/O, too!

It has a Motorola maths and floating-point co-processor.

It has a socket for an Intel processor, for PC emulation.

It has an internal expansion connector: upgrade to ISA and/or PCI.

It has stereo digital sound in and out. Therefore it can handle voice
command and 100wpm. text input too, given the software.

It has SCSI II, LAN, RS232, parallel, MIDI, expanded joysticks and
controller ports, ROM cartridge port...

It has an internal 1.44 meg. 3.5 floppy drive (which reads PC disks too).
There's an existing world-wide network of online Atari enthusiasts.

There's tens of thousands of programmes online, every conceivable kind of
mature software (ST's have been around for over ten years), nearly all of
it free or shareware. There are top-flight commercial packages too. Most
of them are online.

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It doesn't 'fall over' all the time like Windoze, and it's easy to fix.

It _doesn't_ have 'back doors', latent viruses, and routines which can be
remotely activated to scan your hard drive and interleave outgoing data
packets to a destination other than whatever you're accessing.

It doesn't clutter up your living-room.

And it goes like lightning.

[ FX: "FLASH!!!" ]

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So we redesign the case.

We redesign the motherboard a bit. Several people doing this already,
especially Computer Direct in Alberta, Canada, the best in the

Shiraz Shivji (NeXt, Apple), designed the first ST then quit Atari

We move the power supply (smallish -- loads of people produce such things
for next to nothing) out into to the power cable (handy for differing
local voltages) and input low DC voltage instead. A bit safer and easier to
replace or upgrade, too.

We removve the internal IDE or SCSI II Hard Drive.

We substitute rear bays for:

An optional plug-and-play internal ZIP drive

An optional Hard Drive

An optional internal plug-and-play CD-ROM.

An optional radiomodem.

We source good-quality clonemakers. It's a relatively simple design, and
there's a fair amount of spare capacity around ATM.

We talk nicely to Motorola, asking them to keep the US government off our
case, please! And to provide organizational and technical support.

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We then have a basic, cheap Internet machine -- a WebTV and Network Computer
_and_ a standalone personal computer/Work Station, with full expansion and
upgrade capability to top Graphics Works Station level.

The later Atari STe (same case but lesser internals) sold for 150 UKP retail.
Everything's gotten cheaper since then.

You can carry it home in a smallish box with a handle.

Plug into the mains, connect to your TV aerial socket with a two-way
pre-emptive switchbox, or into an SVGA monitor, as you wish.

Plug an ordinary phone jackplug into the back.

And you're off!!!

Now sit back in your armchair:

Point a cheap ($10?) optical wand at the screen to move the cross-hairs
around, and click.

You're onto the Internet!

Add an internal ZIP drive? No problem.

Or an internal Hard Drive? Of whatever capacity? Easy-peasy.

CD-ROM drive? Easy.

You want a memory upgrade to _1 gig_? Computer Direct will oblige!


64 MHZ 68040? CD are selling them now -- 'Hades'

Superscalar 120 MIPS 68060 model? Again, Hades is available now from CD.

ISA or PCI graphics card? CD have them now.

SVGA or WorkStation VDU? Just plug-'n-play.
Scanner? Printer? _Virtually anything_, actually: no problem

Voice command and control, with text input? Built-in DSP, remember...

Headsets off the shelf -- around ten dollars.

Advice? Support? Log onto hundreds of existing sites worldwide, run by
knowledgeable Atari enthusiasts.

Motherboard upgrades? We recycle the old ones indo discount machines.

PowerPC Mac board upgrades too? No real problem!

Actually, we can then emulate virtually every Personal Computer
platform in the world.

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Now we go to the ISPs and telcos. We say this:

'The present market value of an Internet Service customer is around $1200.'

"It's so cheap, you can _give_ the basic Blackbird to your new customers,
as part of the deal for monthly-paid unlimited access service."

"If you (the telcos) then enable spread-spectrum modem traffic with
instant-connect via your phone lines, radio links, cables, we'll provide a
reconfigured SoftModem download to handle it. Then customers can 'blink' on
and off the Internet, releasing line and exchange load."

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What do Windoze do? Kill everyone? Try to put us all out of business?
Bit obvious, that... Bit illegal ... Bit like a case for the trust-busters
... Bit civilly-actionable, too ... Class Actions ...

Motorola is a major defense-related player, and CIA and NSA are tasked right
now, to support American firms, with (inter alia) commercial intelligence)
and comprehensive protection against interference.

Motorola's American, right?

Then, there's Iridium....

We _need_ this, for Democratic Agorism to succeed - and fast.

(Singapore -- a tight little authoritarian jobbie -- is putting a Network
Computer in every home right now. Does the Western World -- including
America and Europe --- really want to be left far behind?).

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Why the name 'Blackbird'? Bit of a liberty, really... >:-}

TITLE: '...quick beyond all dreams of speed...'

TEXT: "Miles above, in the blue-black curve of space, the superstar of winged
espionage makes its home. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than
a fleet of locomotives, and able to leap wide continents in a single bound
is the SR-71 Blackbird. Named for its sooty [*midnight-blue*, actually -TH],
heat-resistant titanium skin, which glows cherry-red as it flashes through
the heavens at Mach 3.32, the successor to the ill-fated U-2 can photograph
100,000 square miles of the earth's surface in less than an hour from a
height of more than 85,000 ft. At the same time, its package of superadvanced
SIGINT sensors can chart electronic battlefields and peer deep over a border
with side-looking radar..."

>From "The Puzzle Palace" by V. James Bamford; Sidgwick and Jackson, [1983].

The 'Blackbirds' are powered by two giant Pratt and Whitney J58

This series of planes was dreamed by Richard M. Bissell, jr. and built by
Kelly Johnson and his team at Lockheed's Burbank Works, California, USA.

One of my most treasured possessions is a photograph of a USAF SR-71 in
serene high flight, signed -- just for me -- by Richard M. Bissell jr,
anarchic administrator, polymath, genius.

Professor of Mathematical Economics at Yale:

Director, the War Shipping Agency during WWIII.

Studied under Hayek at LSE and found him 'incomprehensible'! (that
accent, at that time). I had no problems understanding Hayek, on a
consideable number of occasions when I met him).

Deputy Director, Plans at CIA:

President, the Institute for Defense Analyses at Princeton -- NSA's

Private consulting business in Wilmington, Delaware.

'Jedi Knight' (Read John Ranelagh, 'The Agency.'

CONTACT: Everyone who can help to get this project off the ground!

/ /\ \


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| * Anthony Hugh (Tony) Hollick |
- <*> --------------------------* * * *-------------------------- <*> -
| Rainbow Bridge Foundation * * * Centre for Liberal Studies |
- <*> --------------------------* * * *-------------------------- <*> -
| 4 Grayling House, Canford Rd: * Bristol BS9 3NU Tel: 9501894 |

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"Freedom means doing whatever you damn well please." -- Barry Goldwater