My Basement

My Basement Computer Room

Yes, its out of control. When ZFX first started, I operated out of the basement of another house. We outgrew that one, so I moved here where there is 2,000 sq ft in the basement alone. We eventually outgrew this space, so we moved to the office building at Executive Park where ZFX and Zeta are now.

Oddly enough, we ended up leaving the computers that got us started out. Here, still in my basement, with excellent AC power, special electrostatically filtered air conditioning, lies four SGI IRIS 3130 workstations, all still in good working condition, and a VAX 11/750 with three Avalon 40 MIP accelertor boards. When ZFX first started out, we modelled and rendered on the 3130's, using the first version of PRISMS from Side Effects. The VAX was slow, but the three accelerator boards each could run a render in the 64MB RAM each processor had on board. The VAX only had to do I/O, and it managed a farm of 8 Fujitsu Eagles (all still working) for a whopping 4GB of storage.

Two Ikonas framebuffers provided all video I/O, and we had written our own paint program that ran in the bit-slice processor. In the picture above, you can see the Irises on the left, the VAX with various Eagle drives rackmounted on either side, and a rack with the two Ikonas framebuffers. Crank all this stuff up, and the old electric meter really spins!

When we moved, we took our new SGI Indigo, Personal Iris, and Indy systems, and our faithful Abekas digital disk recorder. We didn't need nearly the power or air conditioning capacity in our new facilities, and the old systems all still function.

At any rate, with the addition of the Scanimate, the basement has become a regular museum of OLD FUNCTIONAL animation systems. If anybody can think of anything useful to do with any of this stuff, PLEASE let me know! I hate to throw away perfectly good working systems, but then I also hate to have it take up space, and I can't afford to power it!

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