by Brian McWilliams
PC World News Radio
February 25, 1998
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
"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.
"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
"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."