From: Timothy Rue (
Subject: Modular Systems (was QuikPak's plans (was A/BOX and Operating systems))
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 97 08:30:00
>On 19 Mar 97 14:13:19 -300, Byron Montgomerie ( wrote:

>>Nicolai Thilo ( wrote:
>>>>Heh, I would consider the A\Box to be the all-in-one hifi system. :)
>>>>Audiophiles generally prefer modular systems. :)

>>>The analogy is flawed, here are three reasons why:  Audiophiles
>>>prefer modular systems because they sound better, not because they
>>>are trying to save money.

>>That's right, they also have more selection to get the best sounding
>>system.  Just because one company makes good amps doesn't mean they
>>have as good CD players.

>Dave Haynie ( wrote:
>I have 13 separate audio/music components here in my office, not
>counting computers. The modular approach is the right one. I don't
>have to replace may amp or mixer just to change to new montiors or a
>new DAT deck (as if).

>Same goes with computers. There are two reasons for thiis need. The
>first one is that different technologies don't always change at the
>same rate. If you can replace just the pieces you want improved, you
>ultimately do save money over replacing the whole thing.

>The second thing is user preferances: not everyone wants or needs the
>same things. This is a problem we always had at Commodore: what should
>a new graphics chipset do? Do you want it video oriented? That's not
>going to please CAD or DTP users. The ideal gamer's solution isn't the
>same as the guy doing MIDI work. So a modular system is more easily
>tailored to your needs. That's not so necessary on the PC, where you
>can pretty much find the unit you want if you're not married to one
>company. On the Amiga, one model had to be everything to everyone for
>awhile. That's also not the case for PowerPC machines. And yet, at
>CeBIT, the PIOS One was only one of three CHRP machines being shown.
>This, at the world's largest electronics and computer show. That
>implies that for some time, the market will more resemble the Amiga's
>than the PC's. Also, once you've plunked down your money, you're stuck
>with what you have, unless the various pieces are easy to change or
>add to.


Dave, I like your analogies.

A little of what I had sent VIScorp (A Gif Image is attached).
Access Image

   There are three topics covered.

   1). Incorporating the Amiga "check-mark" into the VIScorp
       logo. Art-work included as well as rendering files.

*** Here is the relative part to this thread ***

   2). Hardware considerations that can satisfy the wide
       variety of user and developer interest, applications
       and wants. Yet reducing re-packaging cost to a minimum,
       while increasing versatility and stability of product
       line. And as such, lend to improving sales and support
       by establishing standards with user versatility in mind
       as well as being easier on the support and warranty

   3). OS considerations that need to be addressed. To the
       point, one bad apple shouldn't spoil the bunch.
       Meaning that in a multi-tasking environment, one
       faulty application program should not crash the whole
       system, but be removed. And this ability should be
       integrated into the OS and not some application
       program. If there is any one thing about the Amiga
       OS that ticks me off, it is this by far. After working
       for hours on something, having the system crash or
       lock up, keeping me from continuing with otherwise
       trouble free applications.

 1) - VIScorp LOGO and Amiga check mark. (see web page at address below
    and "article 12" thru the "Samples of social industrial issues" link.

 2) - Amiga packaging (Hardware).

         The Amiga seems to be the computer that fits into all the
 cracks, gaps and holes in reguard to the computer industry. As such it
 is difficult to fill the wants and needs of so many when it comes to
 packaging. It does seem that one thing everyone wants is

         I believe there is a workable solutions that most will find
 satisfactory and perhaps as a pleasent suprise. The concept is to
 produce the Amiga into parts or blocks that may be attached and even
 re-configured to fit the packaging needs of many. Such configuring
 abilities certainly would increase the versatility of the system as
 well as allow users to expand their system as they see fit.

         I think from the manufacturing and service perspective, cost
 would be reduced as a result of dealing with standard packaging blocks.
 Electronically, the Amiga seems to have it's Amiga primary board, an
 ability add/enable board and a CPU board. The Amiga primary board would
 be standard in all Amigas where the ability add/enable board is used to
 add or make available additional features of the Amiga. The CPU board
 of course may also contain ram expansion and scsi or IDE interface. The
 variables here would be the ability add/enable board and the CPU board
 and this will allow price differences with the Amiga block.

         The blocks attach to each other through a slot that is
 accessable from both the top and bottom of the right side of the
 block (see dark gray slot panel cover on the units top right side,
 back-side top for the lap-top and hidden in the set top base.) There
 is a "T" pass-thru card the internal boards plug into, which has a card
 edge connector on it's top and bottom edge. The blocks are connected
 using what would be a double sided card edge connector. Securing the
 blocks together is done by removing the light blue rubber molding,
 behind which is the securing screws. This rubber molding also functions
 as the feet so the tower/stacked system, or even the desk-top may be
 layed/sat on it's side (preferably on the right side, due mounting
 direction of the cards that internally plug into the T pass-thru card.)

         The systems in the image:

     Lap-Top - Though not a slim unit but more like a small brief-case,
 uses the standard Amiga Block (bottom), Floppy-plus block (may contain
 up to two hard-drives), Key-board (full size standard), LCD panel (near
 the size of a 13" monitor.) The block on the lower far end is the
 battery pack and external port pass-thru. Additionally the LCD panel may
 contain additional battey power, LCD interface and speakers. Note: the
 LCD panels VIScorp logos - if the LCD panel is mounted to the towers
 top, the LCD panel can fold down the right side of the panel and be
 switched to allow correct viewing/listening.

     Tower/stack - Custom sizable so mini, mid and full don't really
 apply. From the bottom up, Standard Power supply block (this block might
 contain up to three power units (allowing lower cost for those going
 with the basic as well as upgrading as they expand the power requirement
 - while adding another power block is also allowable). Next up is the
 standard Amiga block followed by a card expansion block. The Floppy Plus
 block is next and is followed by a Drive bay block (actually the Card
 expansion block and the drive block could be the same standard block,
 giving the user the option on use). Topping the stack is a standard
 expansion block like the two larger blocks but just small (same heigth
 as the floppy)

     Desk-top - bottom left and clock-wise. Drive/card expansion block
 and Floppy Plus Block. The top is a connector panel that allows stacks
 to be used side-by-side. Then the shorter expansion block followed by
 the Amiga block and finally the Power block.

     Setting on top of the desk-top is the set-top box. This is only
 the Amiga Block with attached (same size as the floppy plus block)
 card swipe block. The base might contain the power supply.

     Personally I think the Set-top box concept is fantastic. It should
 get the Amiga into many homes where it can be expanded as new users are
 introduced to computers and electronic communications. As to third parties
 wanting to license the technology, if the primary Amiga board is versatile
 enough, the boards could be sold in quanity/discount and be used as the
 buyer sees fit or within agreed upon limits. Correct me if I'm wrong, but
 is not the whole idea to generate the finances to payoff debts, improve
 the technology, and earn a nice income for those responsible just the
 business cycle of advancing technology?

     Somewhere is all of this there is a rack-mount and variations of

     As you can see, applying some block/modular design to the Amiga
 packaging, it is possible for one to have such a system that may be
 changed around to fit their needs. Such a design has many advantages.
 One of which may be the ability to up-grade the whole system by simple
 upgrading the Amiga block (with newer technology).

     Through standardization and versatility, cost are reduced in areas
 that don't need to be high, for both consumer and manufacture. With the
 price of computer dropping so fast there must be an extra edge and I
 believe this is it. Value added reselling and real Plug-N-Play.

     The casing might well be plastic injection mold, with the back out.
 The electronic slides in from the back and included whatever sheilding
 (thin metal as required). Third party developers no longer need to be
 so concerned with users installing there hardware via real Plug-N-Play.
 And users don't need to be so fearful to expand due installation
 expense or do it yourself fear.

     Ventilation and external connectors are not included in the files
 but I'm sure it's no problem to figure it out. I can easily see it in my

     All in all there are, given the included files, basicly three
 different heights to the blocks, something a little over 1", 2" and
 4". All with a width of about 8". Of course the keyboard, battery pack
 and perhaps the LCD all break the depth of about 15" and the two stack
 panel connector breaks the standard width, but all these do so in a
 very functional way. See and study the LightWave files which are done
 to scale.

     From the hardware developer perspective, I can see the slot being
 use to plug a development/prototype board directly into while leaving
 accessability to both sides of the prototype board.

     From the software developer perspective (especially the team) I can
 see where there is the ability to directly plug a take along unit into a
 main Amiga to transfer code/application. This does bring up networking
 but to have the ability to directly connect Amiga's to the same bus
 lines (given additional control lines as would be needed) could and
 probably would have worth while advantages. I do recall something
 having been developed for the Amiga along the lines of a transputer/
 parrallel processor system (via add on boards) many years ago.

     Personally, I have an Amiga 1000 and an A4000. The reason I didn't
 up-grade over the years is because I simply didn't see enough of an
 advantage to do so. My purchase of the A4000 was just before Commodore
 went bankrupt and the hardware problems resulted in something of a
 nightmare for me that lasted about a year. Still I'm not completely
 satisfied and sometimes wonder if I'm not still having hardware
 problems but I believe it more an OS and software problems than
 hardware. Had such a modular system existed I have no doubt I would
 have felt more comfortable and probably would have spent more over the
 years to up-grade and expand. Knowing that replacing or adding blocks
 would be a smaller investment than buying a whole new system. And the
 block/modular components would hold value longer due to reusability.

     There is absolutly no doubt in my mind that I'm not the only one
 whom feels this way (or would should others preceive the advantages
 and versatility of a block/modular system). In all the years of the
 Amiga I have only heard a few positive things about the packaging of
 the Amiga, mostly I hear complaints. Of the positive, the one that
 stands out with consistancy is that of the Amiga 2000 having room for
 expandability. What everything I've heard tells me is that people
 don't buy an Amiga for it's looks or small size, but for what they can
 do with it. A block/modular system is much more than any one design
 but that which allows users to create their own design(s) as needed
 and to change the design to fit their current need.

        Part #3 (see web page at address below and "article 12" thru the
"Samples of social industrial issues" link.


There is a bigger picture than just the hardware end. Due to reasons I'll
not go into here (except to say there is much more I haven't communicated),
I feel I must point out that this is nothing new from myself (though the
images may be new to the masses - even these images have made it around a



For an idea of the possible in additive modularity:
Link to Raritan Computer, Inc.


Copyright © 1975, 1988, 1994, 1996, 1997 Timothy V. Rue