Thebackground image is Earth Eastern Hemisphere by NASA and in the public domain as per NASA Photo Guidelines. The manipulation and text merging is done by Ernest Bywater.
30 August 2019 version
Table of Contents
The Initial Assault
Destroying the Alliance
The titles in use are a chapter, a sub-chapter, and a section.
To understand the computer world of today you have to know and understand how it came about. You need to go back over forty years and understand about the events that preceded the Great Collapse of 2017. In reality it was a war, but because it wasn’t a war between nations it wasn’t called a war, instead it was a war between ideas and concepts: those who wanted control of everything against those who wanted freedom. What should have been called the Third World War was fought between two ideologies as an economic war. Since they didn’t want to call it a war the historians called it the Great Collapse.
Following the end of the fighting in the Second World War corporate America started taking more interest in controlling elected officials so they could adjust legislation to the advantage of their corporations. This was often done through heavy donations to their political campaigns, thus creating a sort of debt between the politician and the donor as often these donations made the difference between winning and losing an election. Some companies donated to both major parties to have a foot in the door regardless of who was in power. Some companies organised together into special interest lobby groups to campaign for law changes that helped their industry and profits, more often they campaign against changes that increased their costs or limited their market operations or access. By the late 1990s some lobby groups and companies owned members of the Senate and Congress outright and they traded their votes between them. Some of the larger companies did their own purchasing of politicians. Many laws were passed to improve the corporate profits at the expense of the general public and consumers. It got so bad the companies were purchasing presidential candidates as soon as they’re nominated if they didn’t already own them, and sometimes well before they’re nominated. Thus the presidential elections often became contests between the companies for control of the laws instead of ideological conflicts between political parties. The differences between the parties became very superficial. This problem expanded from the USA to many other countries, democratic and otherwise. The situation got worse with each passing year.
Little Electronic Technologies (LET) was the largest software company of the time, and it best known for its Operating Systems (OS) and business applications. Their best known product being their graphics user interface (GUI) OS called Doors since it provided doorways into all your other programs. Their advertising people were very good with their main slogan of ‘LET Doors open your business up’ being a big hit. Their first operating system was a basic disk operating system called DiS, and they did well with this for over ten years. They also sold application software: a word processor, a spreadsheet, and others. In the mid 1990s they came out with their first GUI called Doors which was the basic GUI OS for the home, a 16 bit OS for a desktop computers only. At first it needed the installation of DiS while the next version of Doors didn’t need DiS. They soon introduced Business Doors with fully integrated network and domain modules to operate in a business Local Area Network (LAN). Both of these went through a number of versions which included some 16 to 32 bit upgrades. They were combined into one with Doors 2000 which had both a desktop and server version and was a full 32 bit OS. This was later followed with the Excellent Doors desktop in business and personal versions plus Server Doors being released as a separate server-only version. In 2007 they released Lookout Doors which was a 64 bit OS in a dozen different variations which caused a great confusion amongst the public while they tried to work out which version was best for them.
Despite their publicly announced release program of a new system every five years Lookout Doors was released two years late and their next major release wasn’t until 2015 when they released Panoramic Doors which was a 512 bit OS with a lot more, much more. Each release of Doors was accompanied by a new version of the LET Business Suite of several applications which worked best with the equivalent release of Doors but didn’t work well on earlier versions of Doors, and most of the earlier Business Suite wouldn’t work well on the later versions of Doors.
LET wrote their software with lots of back-doors into the central kernel to allow their applications easier and faster operations as they bypassed the security checks. This meant once someone could find one of these back-doors they could write a virus to take over control of the system. LET never rewrote the software to close the back-doors as they only wrote patches to cover over the access point in their other software or made them harder to find in the OS. The Doors OS was so insecure with so many holes they needed to issue a set of such patches every month for many years, and for the whole life of the OS in most cases. With each new version of Doors they didn’t rewrite the basic kernel, but just kept adding to it. This kept all of the old security holes in place while making the problem worse by adding more entry points due to the poor code used in the add-ons instead of writing whole new procedures to incorporate the new items, despite coding advances to make it easy to do.
Most new versions had a new set of Command Instructions: the list of basic instructions the OS passes to the hardware and other software. Despite the existence of an industry standard command set LET used their own with a new one for each version of Doors. This made it harder for others to work with their software unless they paid LET large sums for a copy of the new instruction set. It also meant most software wasn’t compatible between variations of Doors, increasing the consumer costs to buy new third party software with each upgrade of Doors they bought.
LET had such a hold on the retail industry they lost several court cases for misuse of their position. This didn’t make them change their methods as they just increased their prices to cover the costs of the multi-million dollar fines. They gave hardware manufacturers large discounts on copies of Doors, provided the company sold a copy of Doors with every machine they made. Thus making Doors the most common OS in the world. By 2007 other OSs were gaining market share with much better products, but it was a very slow process to gain any market share.
Integrated Networks (IN) was the largest manufacturer of integrated circuit chips and they were best known for their Central Processor Units (CPUs). Their best known series was the Pentultimate range of CPUs. Their advertising campaign of placing stickers reading ‘Pentultimate IN-side’ on every machine with one of their CPUs worked well. The Pentultimate series were known as Penta chips, the Penta 1, Penta 2, Penta 3, through to the Penta 9. The whole of the Penta range was based on the same basic design and command set. All of the IN CPUs prior to the Penta were 16 bit chips and the Penta 1 to 3 were 32 bit chips. Starting with the Penta 4 they made 64 bit chips. Early Penta 4s were 32 bit chips and later Penta 4s were 64 bit chips. Each Penta model needed a different socket to sit in and they weren’t interchangeable. As the model numbers grew so did the number of connections in the socket and the processing speed of the chip up to the 9.5 Ghz (gigahertz) Penta 9. The Penta series was replaced in 2015 with the dramatically new Ultima CPU which was a 512 bit chip working at 6 terahertz (Thz) or 6,000,000,000,000 cycles per second. The bit number relates to the number of bits of information the system can send at one time, so a 32 bit system sends twice the data as a 16 bit system and so on. Since the creation of the first CPU the limiting factors on speed have been the size of the internal circuits and the heat created within them. The Penta series was made possible by microscopic sized circuits but heat restricted their speed. A major leap forward with nano sized circuitry and heat resistant materials allowed the Ultima chips to reach such high speeds without melting down.
InLet was the biggest and richest Information Technology (IT) lobby group. Its founders and main funders were Integrated Networks and Little Electronic Technologies, thus the name is a combination of their initials. Many other smaller IT companies joined the lobby group to be insiders with them in regards to the politics and technical advances.
The Alliance was an informal association of major multi-national companies and corporations from several industries that included the major oil companies, major motor vehicle companies, major banks, military arms companies, shipping companies, aircraft manufacturers, and major IT companies - including IN and LET. The Alliance included about seventy corporations representing over seventy percent of the world’s privately owned industrial, business, and economic power. Each of the corporations had annual revenues bigger than many countries’ national economies. Collectively these corporations were the bulk of the world’s private enterprise economy and they all worked very hard at strongly controlling the economy to their own advantage and profits.
Electronic Liberation Front (ELF) was the organisation that lobbied for openness and freedom within the IT industry. This is made up of individuals who felt greater improvements and advances could be made by the sharing of information and cooperative development programs. Most were involved in Open Source software projects. It included the best of the programmers and software writers in the world. It still exists today with the same aims and quality of people.
Great Nerds, Operators, and Master Engineers (GNOME) was a sub group of ELF that worked hard to reverse engineer all new proprietary software and hardware so the Open Source software could be written to be compatible with the equipment and software. They also checked and confirmed all the Open Source software released worked properly with the hardware in general use by the public as well as writing software to allow incompatible hardware to work with Open Source software. It still exists today with the same aims and activities by its members.
Techno Rebels of Open Licence and Liberty (TROLL) was a group of individuals that worked very hard at causing trouble for companies and organisations trying to enforce restrictions on the freedom of the IT world and the Internet. Although it’s believed some members of ELF and GNOME also belonged to TROLL it’s not known if any did since no one knows exactly who was in TROLL. TROLLs all used nicknames whilst the ELF and GNOME members usually used their real names.
The Deadman was a private individual’s nickname, he was very well known and respected by the whole IT community and by the time of the events leading up to the great collapse he was seen as the secret grandfather figure and elder statesman of the industry. He was a strong supporter of the use of open industry standards and knew all of the IT technology from the days of the early mainframes to the latest Personal Computers (PCs). No one knew his real name, just his nickname. He usually didn’t have much to say, but when he spoke most in the industry listened and paid close attention, very close attention, because they all knew he was a genius who often predicted the future direction of IT.
From the first days of proprietary software people have made and used illegal copies of software. Many methods were tried to stop this. Some companies even installed a special type of virus in some of their media as a way to allow them to control pirate activities. The public disclosure of this was a major blow for their prestige and profits due to consumer backlashes. Many companies, especially LET, spent a lot of time and effort to fight the illegal copying called piracy. Many thought LET spent more money on fighting the piracy than they actually lost to pirate operations. Most piracy was in countries where people couldn’t afford the retail cost of their software anyway, so it was never a lost sale - just one they’d not have gotten at all.
The Internet was never designed or intended to be a secure work environment while most LANs were designed to be very secure work environments. However, whenever you connect a LAN to the Internet you get a mix of the security levels as you have communications coming to the PCs from both secure and insecure sources. General use of the Internet over business networks saw a major jump in the spreading of virus and Trojan programs. This caused lots of trouble for individuals and businesses because the rogue software destroys or damages data or steals it for misuse.
Soon Trojans were taking control of systems to harvest information to gain access to databases, bank accounts, and assisted in identity theft for unlawful use. Each year this trend grew, as well as the complexity and danger of such programs. Many legitimate businesses used the same type of software to gather information to target individuals with advertising aimed at their particular interests, and many other activities to boost their revenues. These programs were called spyware or malware, depending upon what it did when in place. A host of programs came out to counter all the spyware and malware programs as well as the virus programs. Because many large corporations got a financial advantage from spyware they weren’t interested in software to block malware, unless it let their spyware work. Because both malware and spyware used the same processes to work it wasn’t really possible to block one and not the other.
As far back as the late 1990s InLet proposed a process to resolve the piracy and malware issues by a great increase in the security of the individual PCs. Their proposal was to have the CPU and OS create a unique Identity Number (IDN) by combining the CPU serial number with OS serial number using a complex program and to have this IDN automatically attached to all messages, files, and other data the PC made or sent. The registration details of all IDNs would be kept in a central registry maintained by InLet. Which could provide the identification of anyone sending a virus or trojan or spyware and the owner of any file. People could be placed on a ‘black’ list so subscribers could access the list and have the system block mail from those people, they could also add others to their own personal ‘black’ list.
When this idea was mentioned to the general IT community and the world at large it got severely attacked from all quarters for the invasion of privacy as well as many other angles. Most people objected to this heavy handed big brother aspect. InLet dropped the proposal, but revived it a few years later under another name with only part of the intent being made public. They also included the concept of having it being turned on or off by the client so it could be used for secure communication within any single LAN or set of LANs called a Wide Area Network (WAN). Again it received a bad response from the IT and general community for the very same reasons.
A few years later LET extended their on-line registration process to be an on-line activation process. No longer could you load the software and enter the registration code on its packet as you now had to go on-line over the Internet to register it on their database. This process checked to see if that serial number had already been registered, and if it had it didn’t activate. This caused a lot of problems with people who changed hardware because the installation process noted the hardware and any significant changes required a new activation, even changing graphics cards was triggering this. After a lot of complaints the process was amended and it wasn’t so fine in its trigger process, thus you only had to reactivate if you changed the hard-drive. Excellent Doors was the first OS to use this process, but it got more difficult with later versions of Doors.
Halfway through the life cycle of Excellent Doors LET introduced another program as part of their monthly security upgrade. It was called Confirmed Authorised Doors (CAD). Whenever you accessed the LET website to get the latest load of security upgrades CAD would check your system against the activation database and not permit access to the upgrades unless it could confirm your system wasn’t a pirate copy. If it suspected your system was a pirate it would initiate the deactivation routine inside the Doors on your system and you had to contact LET for a licence code. Their basic assumption was you had a pirated copy.
Thousands of people had problems with CAD telling them their legal software was a pirated version. The real funny aspect of this was the part of the Doors program used to closed it down was part of the activation code that was left out of the versions sold by the pirates, so CAD couldn’t shut down a pirate copy, anyway. LET soon learned of this and amended the CAD program to first check if it could find the shut-down command on the system, then it refused access to the upgrades if it couldn’t. The number of legal copy holders being closed down incorrectly by CAD grew on a daily basis, yet LET didn’t try to fix that aspect of CAD.
When LET released Lookout Doors they increased the internal security aspects by more code add-ons that had tougher versions of CAD and their activation program. The result was a less secure program which caused more hassles for the clients. Lookout Doors needed and used much more of the system resources than any other software because it included lots of new features very few people used, all of them included and automatically loaded by default and all of the Doors features were extremely hard to disable or turn off. Lookout Doors was best described as a super nova: big, bloated, pretty to look at, but not much use for anything of any real value.
Despite LET’s marketing and hype the general public were very reluctant to move to Lookout Doors. Third party software companies were very reluctant to write software to work with Lookout Doors. There’d been a lot of expensive problems with the Excellent Doors release and the companies were waiting until Lookout Doors was in heavy general usage before doing anything. It was over a year before any reasonable amount of third party software was produced as Lookout Doors compatible. During this time many people stayed with Excellent Doors while those who had to change often looked at alternative OSs. Those who had to change included lots of large government organisations. LET lost a significant part of their market share and the drop continued to grow each year. They were also losing significant long term commercial clients throughout this time. They blamed pirates for this loss in revenue, even when it was obvious that was not the case. A clear link between loss of revenue and loss of government business as well as some major corporate clients was visible to all of the business analysts.
Another humorous aspect of computing life at the time was the amount of malicious code let loose as virus or Trojan Horse code. Over ninety percent of them were aimed at LET software, especially Doors, and it wouldn’t run on other operating systems. The moment LET released a new version of Doors or their applications a new set of virus and Trojan Horse attacks appeared. Once a new version of LET software was about two years old new virus or Trojan Horse attacks on the older software vanished because everything was aimed at the new versions and only the new versions. Some people theorised the attacks were organised by LET to gain public support for their heavier and heavier draconian security measures. Due to all of the new Doors releases always having the same holes as the older ones this did seem a logical theory because any decent programmer would have closed off all known holes. Yet the LET coders never did this and all the early attacks were always through these well known holes that were still unsecured. Sloppy work or a long term strategy. No one knew, outside of LET management and programmers. It was also interesting how the writers of the malware were able to get deep into the new Doors code so much faster than those working to write other software to work with Doors, even when they bought copies of the relevant parts of the code from LET to help them with their coding.
In the year 2011 some researchers developed a new composite material with a much higher heat resistance than existing materials. IN checked it out and found it was also good for making CPUs. They tested out its capabilities then reactivated some development work they had stopped because of the heat produced melting the CPUs. They now made faster and faster processors without any heat problems at all.
During 2012 one of the IN engineers worked out a way to build a CPU using true nano technology. The circuit wires were only one nanometre (nm) - one billionth of a metre across, until then the best they could do was 25 nm. This meant they can now pack a lot more into the same space while the new composite meant it wouldn’t melt on them.
IN went all out in seeing how much they could cram into a new CPU design. This resulted in the Ultima CPU, a 512 bit processor working at 6 Thz. This is 631 times faster than the Penta 9 series at 9.5 Ghz; plus the 512 bit channels moved eight times the amount of data than the 64 bit channels did. This gave a final processing difference of 5,052 times faster than the Penta 9.5 Ghz 64 bit CPU.
This was a significant, one could say a quantum, leap forward in computer processing capability. IN told no one but LET when they first designed the chip in 2013. They were still working on the set of command instructions and the final data handling processes. InLet immediately decided to keep the CPU secret until they could unveil a whole new system. LET started converting their latest version of Doors to be a 512 bit system. IN set to designing a 512 bit motherboard with built-in sound and graphics able to fully utilise the capabilities of the CPU.
By mid 2014 the Ultima chip was ready for the public, and so was the Ultima motherboard with built-in 512 bit sound and graphics processor chips. The CPU socket was 25% larger than the Penta 9 so it was able to handle the extra large data channels. This system also utilised the new GEL memory storage system that allowed for 10 Zettabytes (ZB) of long term memory storage capacity: a Zetta is a term for 10 to the 21st power or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. It used the new Bubble Memory which allowed for 8 Petabytes (PB) of Random Access Memory (RAM), a Peta is 10 to the 15th power or 1,000,000,000,000,000. Panoramic Doors and its matching applications of Panoramic Business Suite were ready too. Both specially designed for the Ultima system and available only as 512 bit versions for use with the Ultima chip and motherboard.
During this time both companies had been informing the media they were developing new ground breaking systems to come, but no details were provided. The details were made public on 5 January 2015 with the official retail launch of both Ultima and Panoramic being set as 1 February 2015. InLet had kept the development details secret from the world. But in 2013 and 2014 they’d informed all the other Alliance members of their developments while they progressed.
In August 2014 InLet started selling the new Ultima / Panoramic systems to Alliance members so they could get an early start converting their computer systems over and get an operating advantage over their opponents. LET even helped them rewrite their core business software to be 512 bit software and perform better with Panoramic Doors. This was all finished months before the public release. The difference was very noticeable, especially in the banking industry where the transaction approvals were very much quicker. Processing was significantly faster in all areas of computer operations.
Panoramic Doors also had a new top notch security aspect. All data stored on the system was automatically encrypted and decrypted by the system. No one could get your data unless they were logged into the system with a valid user ID and password. Even placing the storage drive in another system would not display the data as each system’s encryption program was based on an algorithm using the serial numbers of the motherboard, CPU, and Panoramic Doors. This unique number was used as the base of the encryption code. LET claimed this made the encryption impossible to break due to the size of the variables and the complexity of the algorithm.
There was mixed public reaction to the new systems for many reasons. The main one being the cost involved. Others worried about the stability of the system. Some were concerned about their mission critical software since it wasn’t available for the new systems yet due to the software companies being careful about jumping on the band wagon as they’d been severely hurt with the release of both Excellent Doors and Lookout Doors when problems in the first six months saw service pack releases break all of their software due to changes by LET and the third party companies had to bear the expense of the changes. In each case it took them over a year to recover the expenses caused by the actions of LET.
The biggest concern for many was the activation process and the latest version of CAD. Change one part of the system and CAD killed you, giving you only two days to get a new code from LET which you had to pay for it. They didn’t charge for the code as you just had to call them on a premium phone line and the process took fifteen to twenty-five minutes at $5 per minute in special phone charges on their help service phone line. A very expensive free service where most of the money went to LET.
There were distinct advantages to switching since the fastest available system other than the Ultima / Panoramic was a Penta 9 with a Penguin OS - an efficient open source OS. The best Penta 9 system was a 64 bit 9 Ghz CPU with 100 PB of hard disk storage and 8 TB (Terabytes) of RAM. The Ultima was 5,000 times faster with 1,000 times more RAM and 100,000 times the data storage capacity, all with a much faster access rate. This was very useful for some businesses but not worth the trouble or cost for many people. Most games companies started considering the possibilities this allowed for game complexity, but they were waiting for the systems to stabilise while they investigated how to write games for the systems in a way to best utilise their full capabilities
The biggest down side was the cost. The above Penta 9 system cost US$2,000 to put on a desk with a basic office productivity suite while the basic Ultima system cost US$8,000 for the equivalent set up, and half of that was for the new software. The other major concern was the new version of CAD because people didn’t like it or the costs it added. The third concern was the automatic encryption process as if you have a problem where you need to replace the motherboard or CPU or load on another copy of Panoramic Doors all of your data is all gone because you can no longer decrypt it. The fourth area of concern was the inclusion of Secure Computing Identification Number (SCIdN) which created a unique serial number from a complex algorithm using the serial numbers of the board, the CPU, and Panoramic Doors. When activated the SCIdN would be attached to all the messages and files the system sent. The SCIdN was also listed in an InLet database. LET advertised there were four levels of SCIdN usage; Off, Basic, Data, and Full. Set to Off no SCIdN information was supplied to anyone. Set to Basic the SCIdN was provided to the LET database with your registration details. Set to Data it also attached your SCIdN to transmitted data. Set to Full it listed your SCIdN with details of all your registered software to the Verified Identity List Update Service (VILUS).