What if NeXT had built an Intel Cube?

We have. 7/15/2003 ,

Update many Super Cube projects have been successfully completed .

One Customer entered his into the Maximum PC March 2003 Computer Mod contest and placed 3rd Nationally , Congrat's Barry. The photo is on page 45 in the magazine and features a polished Magnesium Cube, Neon with other special effects.

We have a photo of it on our faq page.

MTV engineers put one together for use in the studio.

NeXT Pizza box mods are also very cool.

Keep up the good work everyone!

The number of Cube cases available for mods is diminishing as Cubes are becoming more difficult to find . We preserve the original configurations when possible as we care.

We like the good old NeXT's as is , we would have been able to sell thousands of Cube Cases to one customer!

Legend of the SuperCube.
Originally written on October 31 1997 by Rob Blessin, for Society Magazine.

The SuperCubes are here!

Well, I was having a fairly interesting day not so long ago. In my efforts to locate yet another hard to find NeXT item I thought that I may just have for another customer , I became sidetracked, as though drawn mysteriously into this project by some unforeseen positive force.

I began this mission by rummaging and sorting through the labrynth of boxes containing old NeXT hardware and NeXT software that I have acquired through the years. I came across that old friend I was searching for: An 030 cube.

I dusted her off and tried powering her up. To my dismay, she would no longer boot, and after opening her up for inspection, I discovered not only dust bunnies but also that the processor and RAM were missing from the board.

Of course the optical drive was DOA , but the fan and power supply looked potentially useable.

Does anyone have a schematic or know the pinouts for the supply???

I recall countless conversations through the years with many in the NeXT community. We all love our cubes. If only they were faster and could run this , that and everything else, it would be awesome.

I have often pondered the project of upgrading a cube, andI know, from some of the emails and conversations received after posting the concept, that many of you have as well.

Our community prototype SuperCube now boasts a 200Mhz Pentium processor with MMX, upgradable to 233Mhz. We successfully created a booting configuration in an Intel case (to simplify our testing process) in just 3 weeks.

We have tried dozens of components, taking measurements, sizing, to get to the point at which we are now. Many thanks to my friend Frank Alby at Microsupply.

The GM and head technician were just shaking their heads when we unveiled the concept. For fun, we set the cube back in the Microsupply upgrade department, with a Pentium board sitting on top, and a post-it note reading:

"please upgrade this to pentium"

to measure what kind of response we would get. It was comical.

I fortunately had talked in advance with Max Pollard, my guru/seasoned NeXT tech, about the idea, and he liked it. I knew he was serious when he said to bring the Cube and Intel case , components and beer.

We are also testing a Gemini Video Card and it currently allows us to use Windows 95 or NT and original NeXT Sony 17" and Hitachi 21" Color Monitors. It is really scary to see Windows 95 on a cube with a 17" NeXT trinitron displaying it. Yikes! sacrilege or something! Unfortunately there is no Openstep driver for this video card.

We would like to emphasize that this is an open NeXT community project. Your comments or advice are welcome, appreciated, and some have and will be implemented.

If anyone out there is successfully using a video card, on Intel, that allows you to dual boot 98 and Openstep with a NeXT monitor, please let us know. We are currently testing , tinkering and tweaking the drivers for the elsa winner 2000 card and Matrox millennium cards for this capability. We know that most multisynch monitors will work with a dual boot box and it is usually no problem as long as there are Openstep drivers.

In the NeXT few weeks we plan on moving our current booting configuration to 64Mb Ram upgradable to 196Mb , 4Gb Drive, 10/100 Mbt ethernet, Screen Machine( if it will fit with camera), SoundBlaster, and Zip Drive into the cube shell. We are now wearing the hats of Computer architects and engineers and I look forward to keeping everyone updated.

Our goal is to try not modifying the case in any way and, in our preliminary testing, it looks good. We are also working with an external SCSI case for the CD rom and additional drives. If anyone has a line on Black external SCSI Cases please let us know.

We plan on offering SuperCubes for a reasonable price. Our markup on components for the custom, hand built SuperCubes will be 15%. This helps cover our R&D, labor , overhead and supplies.

Our warranty is 1 year parts and labor, but most of the components will have a standard 3 year warranty.

I'm currently talking to NeXT/Apple's legal department about licensing issues. We may be able to use our existing licenses to upgrade these to 4.2. They think it is kind of cool.

These Cubes will also run Rhapsody. So if you have an old cube that is gathering dust and you would like to see it come back to life give us a call or drop us an email!

We would also like to provide an advertisement. Well here it is , how about if I just wing it... if you are interested in NeXT related stuff like the Super Cube, you can reach us by Phone at 303-741-9998, Fax 303 -741-9997 or Email us at bhi1@ix.netcom.com, please feel free to browse the catalog at http://www.blackholeinc.com/

If you are seriously interested in buying a Super Cube 233MMX or PII Boxer, please let us know. It takes extra time to build a really cool high end workstation.

Also, a Super Cube combined with an NEC 17" Monitor and with built in Speakers looks really cool and is very fast.

Updated on 1/13/98, Professor Emiritus Edward Hucke taught me about NeXT components that we have been searching for, thanks! As it only now dawned on me I had to think about this one and the lightbulb went on this evening has provided an important clue on a component, we have been questing for this project to really succeed. The Diamond Viper Video Card with a Griffin Synch on Green Adaptor allows you to use Openstep and Windows and a NeXT Hitachi 21" Monitor and hopefully the 17" Sony's. Now I have to find a source for the specific cards that work, If you know please email us totally cool Monster Cube.

Does anyone have a schematic or know the pinouts for the supply??? We finally answered this one the NeXT book lists the schematics for the bus.

Ultimately , it would be cool to use the old backplain and power supply, then fit an 040 board into one of the slots.

Ethernet between the Pentium Board and the 040. The 040 would power up the NeXT laser printer , now we a retalking. We need an electrical Engineer that would be able to explain how or if it is safely possible to wire in a pentium mother board to the original NeXT backplain. We are going to try iton a 486 board first. As long as we have the cases and components that will fit, we can engineer a computer that will fit in the Cube Shell.

Michael Jordan retired today.

I recall countless conversations through the years with many in the NeXT community...we all love our cubes, if only they were faster and could run this , that and everything else, it would be awesome. I have often pondered the project of upgrading a cube as I know from some of the emails and conversations after posting the concept many of you have as well.


Best regards,

Rob Blessin
Black Hole, Incorporated

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