Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Androids, Supercomputers & Bell Labs

It's been a while since we posted an Object Special Report and I feel that with all of this Secret Space Program whistle-blowing occurring right now this might be a good opportunity to share a personal experience involving one of my family members. I recently spoke with him and asked permission to tell his story to which he agreed as long as I changed the name and a few key dates.

Some Brief History

My cousin, we'll call him Douglas for the purposes of this article, spent over 15 years working for AT&T's research & development lab in Murray Hill, New Jersey as a high-level supercomputer technician with security clearance. I won't go into too much detail about what his job entailed, simply that his specialty was Cray supercomputers, of which AT&T had at least one at that time. This time frame I will be speaking of was 1981 to 1984, Doug had already worked for the company as a contractor for a number of years prior to this and was brought into full time employment with AT&T Labs in 1980. He is quickly approaching retirement age and hasn't worked for AT&T for quite some time which is why I can write about this now.

If you met Doug you would immediately realize how huge of a tech-geek he is, he's on top of the latest computer-tech news and you'll find him routinely fixing computers for friends and family. He graduated with a degree from a university in upstate New York and he has multiple technical certifications under his belt going back to the 70's. He is fundamentally an intelligent, tech savvy guy.

Obtaining Security Clearance

Early in 1981 almost everyone in the family as well as friends of ours were approached by agents from the FBI since the position Doug was accepting required a full background check as well as in-person interviews with family and friends. This is standard operating procedure for anyone accepting a job that requires a high level of security clearance. Douglas received his security clearance a few months later and began work at the Murray Hill research facility known at that time as Bell Labs. In 1984 it became "AT&T Bell Laboratories" and held that name until 1995. 

AT&T Bell Laboratories | Murray Hill, New Jersey

In 1980, the TDMA and CDMA digital cellular telephone technology was patented. In 1982, Fractional quantum Hall effect was discovered by Horst Störmer and former Bell Laboratories researchers Robert B. Laughlin and Daniel C. Tsui; they consequently won a Nobel Prize in 1998 for the discovery. In 1986, the programming language C++ was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup as an extension to the original C language, also developed at Bell Laboratories. And in 1984, the first photoconductive antennas for picosecond electromagnetic radiation were demonstrated by Auston and others. This type of antenna became an important component in terahertz time-domain spectroscopy. So needless to say, AT&T/Bell Labs have been a crucial component of advanced telecom research for decades.

Visiting Bell Labs Underground

CRAY-1 Supercomputer
On a sweltering summer day in August of 1983 Doug was summoned to the Murray Hill facility to "swap out several HSD's on one of the CRAY 1 computers" by his supervisor. An HSD is a hot-swappable drive which at the time was a fairly new technology and only technicians who were properly trained to deal with such tech were allowed to work on these systems. Doug floated around between various facilities throughout the northeast as he was needed and was based out of a satellite office in Newark, NJ. He had been to the Murray Hill facility many times in the years prior to this but never to work specifically on one of the CRAYs, this one in particular being located in an underground level below the main facility. 

When he arrived, he signed in and was quickly escorted by two armed guards both dressed in white button-down shirts with the Bell logo to an elevator which took them down to this sub-level. He wasn't sure how far down they went, only that it took the elevator less than a minute to reach this level. He guessed it was maybe 2 or 3 stories underground, there were no floor numbers in the elevator to indicate what level they were on. As the door opened one of the guards said to him, "Try not to look around too much, some of this stuff is above your pay grade" in a mildly sarcastic tone. 

They exited the elevator into a small annex that had a listing of research labs along with lab room numbers and arrows pointing left and right to indicate the direction of each lab. They turned right into a long, brightly lit and fairly wide corridor. On both sides of this corridor were floor to ceiling length glass windows. Without being too conspicuous, Doug noted that most of the glass windows were brightly lit from within, but you could only see into a few of them, the rest appeared to be frosted glass. Years later he would learn that those windows were electrically polarized to keep prying eyes from seeing things they shouldn't. Regardless of this fact, one particular lab was fully visible and what he got a glimpse of would stick with him for the rest of his life.

Underground laboratory corridor with lighted glass floor to ceiling windows on both sides.
(Artistic Rendering | TheObjectReport.com)

In his own words, he describes what he saw. 
"This was 1983 and robotics was still a new field so at the time I had no reference to compare this against. It wasn't until the following year that the movie Terminator hit theaters, and I swear to God what I saw in that lab looked exactly like the Terminator endoskeleton. It looked like a human being that had all of it's skin removed but instead of flesh and bone it had metallic tendons and muscles. It's skeleton was identical to a humans, it even had a full rib cage, only it was all metallic. I turned stark white when that endoskeleton crawled out of the fire at the end of the movie. I had already seen this thing in the basement of Bell Labs! It totally freaked me out."
He said there were several technicians working on this 'endoskeleton' which was laying on a table tilted at a 45 degree angle, almost like a dentist chair. He immediately wondered why they would have something like this on display, but thinking back on it later he figured they probably didn't know a technician was going to be coming down here on that particular day. He said the experience shook him to the core because it seemed so advanced and so far beyond what the known state of the art was at that time that it almost seemed 'alien' to him in some ways.

Meeting a CRAY

At the end of this corridor were a set of double-doors that opened up into a very large room with a high ceiling where the CRAY was located. This was one of the older "1" series machines which would be replaced by an X-MP/24 in November of 1985. The guards told him to use the phone to contact them when he was done so he could be escorted back out and reminded him not to leave the room. As they left, one of the doors was left cracked open as it apparently didn't automatically close. Moments later Doug hears a female voice very clearly say "Please close the door." He looked around expecting to see someone standing behind him. The voice said "This is a temperature controlled room, please close the door" and it was then he realized it was a computerized voice telling him this. Again, his mind was blown since this was all cutting edge technology at the time. It doesn't sound like much to us in 2016, but 30+ years ago this was stuff straight out of science-fiction movies. Literally.

CRAY X-MP/24 Supercomputer
Once he completed the drive swap, he called the guards as instructed and they showed up a few minutes later to retrieve him. Oddly enough, they took an entirely different route back to the top level via a stairwell at the end of a totally different hallway. Perhaps the guards realized their mistake in walking this computer tech down a hallway filled with research labs? That's purely speculative. They boarded an elevator one level up from where the CRAY was and returned to the ground level. I have to stress that this wasn't like some major underground base, this was simply a sub-basement level that was filled with individual labs. They walked past vending machines, break rooms and bathrooms, all very prosaic stuff. Aside from that android laying on the table, of course.

Pentiums Before There Were Pentiums

Another tidbit of information that I found fascinating, albeit not all that surprising, was the fact that scientists working at AT&T/Bell Labs in 1983 were using 90mhz Intel "Pentium" CPU's in their workstations. But wait Agent K, I thought the fifth-generation x86 architecture wasn't introduced to the market until 1993? That's correct folks, it wasn't released to the public for a full decade after it was introduced to the private research sector. Of course in
1983 it wasn't called the "Pentium" which was a name coined by Lexicon Branding, a company hired to give the new processor a catchy name instead of a numerical designation. Doug just internally referred to it as the "586 processor" at the time. Workstation components were being supplied directly to the labs from a development group within Intel. There were many instances where he would be sent to work on a machine that he had never seen before so he was usually given a resource to contact that would be able to answer technical questions he might have.

Casio TV-10 LCD TV
This wasn't the only thing he witnessed during his time at the labs. Most of the high-level research workstations were using flat glass display panels. The way Doug described these was like if you took the screen off one of the very first laptops ever to be introduced and attached it to a stand. It was still extremely 
early LCD technology so it wasn't the clearest or most colorful display, but more of them could be used in a given work space over the large footprint of CRT's. To put this in perspective, the first commercially available LCD TV was the Casio TV-10 which was introduced in 1983 and had standard definition resolution and poor color reproduction.

A few years later he said he spoke to another tech friend of his who also worked for the lab, he told Doug that he had seen some research being done on using lasers to write data on crystalline cubes in order to store vast amounts of information. It was fully rewritable and had the approximate footprint of a cube of sugar. When you really think about it this is all mind boggling stuff for some 30+ years ago.

So what is my point to all of this? The point is that the true level of state-of-the-art technology that private research corporations such as AT&T possess is decades ahead of what is available to the public. Not just years--decades. So when we see these whistle-blowers such as Corey Goode and William Tompkins talk about secret space program technology like 'glass pads' and kilometer-long spacecraft designs, it's not that far of a stretch to believe that this stuff all exists and has so for 60+ years. We live in a tightly controlled, tightly regulated atmosphere of technological disclosure. Sure, everything is constantly getting better, faster, smaller and cheaper. We now live in a world where we just replace and upgrade our existing technology with the 'next better thing' and the cycle continues to repeat itself. What we don't realize (yet) is the 'next better thing' is still at least two decades behind the true state of the art. Given knowledge like this, imagining a secret space program with electrogravitic ships and reverse engineered alien technology now seems almost mundane.
Agent K