by Brian McWilliams

PC World News Radio
February 25, 1998

from Linux-KernelArchive-UnixSystemsSupportGroupIndianaUniversity Website


This has been a big year for breakthroughs in computer storage technology. But a small New Jersey firm says it is on the verge of developing a new storage device with performance that's out of this world--literally.

American Computer Company says it is prototyping a 90GB drive that is 1000 times faster than IBM's swiftest drive. What's more, the ACC 090b8 is about the size of a poker chip. And because it uses solid-state technology, it requires negligible power and has no moving parts to wear out.

According to ACC President Jack Shulman, the drive uses a technology call transpacitor, or TCAP. Schulman says the design is based on information he received from a former military official--information that may have been salvaged from the alleged 1947 UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico.

"I was very skeptical up front," Shulman says. "I said, 'If you want me to look at something like this, you ought to offer me some evidence.' He came back with four rolling carts full of boxes [from] somebody who may have worked for the DOD or the labs, or some other research project--we're not certain, and they're not saying. We looked at this amazing aggregation of old, very elderly documents, and we gleaned material from them describing two or three distinct technological concepts. So because of my friendship with the guy I said OK, we'll spend X amount of dollars and see if one of these is feasible."

Shulman says he hired a forensic scientist to analyze the documents, and confirmed that they dated back to the mid-1940s.

"We decided almost on a whim to try developing a switch in the drawings that looked very much like it was a semiconductive device. And it worked according to the drawings. ... We were rather surprised. So we've been working on a much more dense version of that chip to see if it has any commercial feasibility. I figure we're 18 or 20 months to completing that growth cycle, and probably 18 months beyond that to see if it's even commercial."

Shulman says he estimates ACC, which is a computer distributor, can sell the 90GB device for less than $1000. He has built a section at ACC's Web site to publicize the technology, including a message board area that's frequented by people interested in UFOs and extraterrestrials.

Market researcher Jim Porter of Disk/trend has been to the site, which features a drawing of what appears to be a space alien. Porter says no one in the storage industry is taking ACC's claims very seriously.

"Other people have seen [the Web site], including major companies--it floats around. And it's cute," says Porter. "It's gotten a modest amount of attention in the industry. ... All I can say is, the picture of the little green man is pretty decisive."

Ken Hallam is director of technology for the storage business at Unisys. He says storage technology advances steadily--the larger research community is rarely surprised by a novel development.


He adds,

"Certainly, if this was left by aliens, maybe that's the reason no one else has got it. ... I talked to [Shulman] about getting a copy or an evaluation unit, [but he said] he doesn't sell to big companies. He felt this technology should be reserved for individuals and not for big companies--he's concerned that they might try to exploit it somehow, I guess."

Shulman says the TCAP technology is for real, and ACC hopes to have it in service by the end of 1999 or early in the year 2000. But patent issues could stand in the way.

"Our lawyers are engaged in a very, very serious look to see if this thing is patentable at all. We haven't made a big to-do about it possibly being a classified technological advance--it probably is, and that would render us unable to patent it, [or to sell it] commercially."

Even if ACC's discovery produces a marketable product, Hallam of Unisys says, there are big questions about whether it can be economical or easily incorporated into today's computers.

"The reason that disk drives [are] so cheap is that there's a whole infrastructure behind the disk drive industry--silicon, and heads, and media," Hallam says. "There's an awful lot of material science that goes into [disk drives], and makes the product something that can be mass-produced. But as soon as you ... put 90GB into [a storage system], the first question is how you get it in or out -- you need some kind of interface that's extremely fast."