The ATLAS series of super computers were designed in the last of the Petroleum Era and progressed through the Second Dark age. The most infamous ATLAS system was installed on the Megaroad ship Nafflgar, a generational ship launched the last year of the Petroleum Era. This mostly scaffolding and framework technically supercruiser was discovered nearly a century after it's launch, an abandoned wreck with its engines scuttled and computer system lobotomized.
In retropunk style, the ATLAS computer is composed of several dozen square feet of panels of flashing lights, glowing dials, and other analog readout systems. The computer is linked to a LAN usually composed of the electronic, security, and smart systems inside a base, building, or ship, and this comprises the body of the system. There are generally several access consoles, some heads up displays, and even positions where the operators can use a microphone to 'talk' to the computer, which will respond by using linguistic trees to create dialog. The 'core' of the ATLAS computer is a toroid shaped chamber lined with data banks and low temperature banks of processors. The chamber is large enough for 3-5 people to occupy it and make adjustments and repairs of the systems inside. The individual data modules can be changed through the core matrix and their placement determines the skill and abilities of the ATLAS, allowing it to be customized for the mission as it progresses without having to build a mainframe large and powerful enough to have every single skillset in it. This allowed for a simpler core, and a fully adjustable system taking advantage of the processing power without taxing it. The core is refrigerated, typically to sub-zero temps.
Atomic Technology Laboratories Analytic Systems of Anaheim was a cutting edge tech firm in the Petroleum Era, and its ATLAS Computer series was their last accomplishment. This was a Hail Mary venture, an all or nothing program as the company had been falling rapidly behind other tech giants in those years and were losing government funding, market shares, and investor confidence. When the bombs started falling and governments started collapsing, ATLAS was already gone, and even their wunderkind computers were not able to bring the company back from the brink.
ATLAS was known for using a chrome and flare retro styling in their products, and had a marketing flamboyance that screamed atompunk. While making stylish computers and prototype machina, they were seen as more style than substance, and the higher pricetag their products carried made them seem hipster and elitist, which while partially true, ignored the fact that their tech was very solid and highly reliable. This ran at odds with the designed obsolescence modes of the Petroleum Era, people then were more interested in the new hotness, and wanted disposable goods so they could always have the new hotness. ATLAS products were retro, and were never new hotness, and were not made with throw away parts or a planned use life of 12-18 months.
Secrets and Scandals
The ATLAS series of supercomputers were prototype genome computers and were powered by human brains held in supercooled nutrient baths. These brains were networked together and the data modules were prototype kakugrams, and they were the distant predecessors of neurochips and chipjack systems. This secret was known inside the higher up government circles, and only by a handful of engineers and technicians, and each ATLAS computer had a dedicated support crew who were mostly ignorant of the system specifics.
The fundamental flaw of the ATLAS series was that the brains used were not blank, not grown from clone tissue like used in organic memory cores. They were taken from test subjects, organ donors, and other less reputable sources. Linked together into a gestalt, the systems were at best marginally stable, and required constant monitoring, debugging, and even chemical injections to keep a semblance of functionality. The personality quirks aside (each individual ATLAS computer developed a demi-sentient personality, with several neuro-divergent issues) the computers, when functional, proved exceptional. The foundation of the technology was sound, even if highly immoral. Until the widespread availability of quantum computing and arcanotech systems, these biocomputers would remain the pinnacle of design. Even in the modern CE, the use of wetware systems is still viable, as the human brain can act as an irrational processor, something that even quantum and sentient systems have major problems with.
The problem with using human brains in pre-arcanotech systems proved disastrous. The systems very quickly proved themselves self sabotaging, homicidal, omnicidal, suicidal, or became deranged to the point that they just entered a catatonic state, or only generated constant strings of gibberish and noise. This became tragically obvious on the Nafflgar, where the ship's computer turned on the crew, and had a reign of terror where it demanded tributes of brains offered to it like a megalomaniacal cult leader. The crew suffered serious losses and eventually destroyed their own ship rather than let it continue on, not knowing what it would eventually be capable of.
The ATLAS computers are gone, and their legacy is largely forgotten. The technology would be revisited by Dr Daystrom for his M5 Computers for the Atlantic Federation. This technology would again prove unreliable and unstable, but Daystrom's Multitron Corp built M5s were vastly superior to the ATLAS computers. This improvement would not unnoticed.
The Metal Motion System and the Dummy Plug
In the Cosmic Era, battlemechs and aerospace craft are the weapons of the day, and most have significant Limited Artificial Intelligence computers (LAIs) controlling the vehicles, with the human pilot making the decisions. The pilot is the cerebrum, while the LAI is the cerebellum, and together they control the body that is the mech or the variable frame aerospace fighter. LAIs are good at executing, but they are not great decision makers, or planners, and likewise, without a supporting LAI, most mecha can barely move at more than a painfully slow shuffle, as controlling the entire machine is more than one person can handle. A mecha without an LAI would require a crew of seven to nine people to operate at a similar level. The Metal Motion System and the Dummy Plug replaces the human pilot in a high end war machine, and is very similar to the ATLAS, in that it is a human brain wired into a control system, and like the ATLAS, these brains are duplicates of the brains of existing mech jocks. As pilots can be scanned, and their memories implanted into fresh meat, the personality and experience donors need not be dead, nor do they even need be aware of their alternate existences as dummy plugs and the cores of wetware computers.
The Evil Computer - there is a secret to building a successful ATLAS computer, you have to built it from the brains of those who are already violently disturbed and insane. The change in state is unlikely to upset the meat, and the system will be stable. The hyper-intelligent, charismatic, and well adjusted are among the worst choices for these systems. The end result, if the ATLAS computer is viable and functional, it will by default be chaotic evil in alignment.
Mr House - a surviving ATLAS has been found, and it is running the show in a geofront where it continually terrorizes the inhabitants, who are living in a post apocalyptic nightmare, thinking the world above is nuclear slag, and that they are the last survivors. The ATLAS plays Baron Munchausen with them, and with anyone abducted and brought back to the bunker geofront.
Ghost Ship - There are other ships, besides the ill-fated Nafflgar, that were equipped with these computers, and some were successful in murdering their crews and surviving. These ships are still out there, and act as traps and haunted dungeons in space, always waiting for fresh meat to arrive. Bonus points for corrupted autons and evil survivors who serve and worship the ATLAS as a devil god lord of the ship
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