The Catacombs The Continuity Guide
Technical Facilities
by Martin Willey

Computer Functionality

Thanks to Marcus Lindroos

According to Guardian Of Piri the Alphans are very dependent on Computer, for commlock systems, blood transfusions, atmosphere control and Eagle operations. "We can't put all our systems on manual. We don't have enough personnel" comments Koenig.

The dependency on a single central computer system is a large vulnerability. Aliens find it easy to manipulate Computer (Missing Link, The Infernal Machine, The Last Enemy, All That Glisters, Brian The Brain, and humans in The Seance Spectre) while others are anxious to tap its resources (Ring Around The Moon).

Life Support

Essential life support functions include regulating the atmospheric oxygen content (Guardian Of Piri, the system probably regulates the content of other trace gases too). Temperature control in public areas is automatic (Black Sun) but Computer continuously measures the temperature (The Troubled Spirit). Local and global electrical power failures are also reported (Collision Course, The Testament Of Arkadia), as are electronic subsystem failures (One Moment of Humanity). Computer also controls equipment producing "100% imitation coffee" (The Dorcons) and presumably other synthetic foods and beverages as well

Security And Access

Dragon's Domain

Another task is monitoring the locations of staff (through commlocks: Earthbound, Force Of Life, Dragon's Domain, where an alert is raised when a crewmember enters a restricted area. In End Of Eternity it is stated Computer maintains at least ten hours of location history data. Computer grants access to data or restricted physical areas based on each user's individual commlock profile .The access profiles may be changed or overridden by the commander or other command personnel (Alpha Child, Collision Course, The Last Enemy, The Bringers Of Wonder, Space Warp, The Beta Cloud).

Analysis and Decision Support


The computer is also capable of programming commlocks (Earthbound), analysing planets and alien spaceships (Computer sounds the alarm if it detects a potential cause of danger) and playing chess (Dragon's Domain: Kano states "I beat computer every time").

In year 1 in particular, Computer frequently acts as an artificial intelligence "expert system" by e.g. selecting Alphans for certain duties (Black Sun, Earthbound, The Testament Of Arkadia) based on their personal qualifications plus the stated requirements of the mission. Computer also tries to assist the human decision making process by issuing recommendations based on available data, although the actual value of this feature appears questionable (Breakaway "Human Decision Required"; Black Sun "It is your duty to report this danger to Alpha Commander"). Risk probability calculations are also performed (Black Sun).

Telemetric Computer

Matter Of Life And Death

This component of the Alpha computer system is named in Earthbound, where it calculates the position of Earth based on data from the Kaldorian spaceship. Its name suggests it also analyses real time telemetry data transmitted from Eagles (Guardian Of Piri, Ring Around The Moon, Space Brain, The Last Sunset, The Immunity Syndrome). However, Eagles can fly without support from base computer if necessary (Guardian Of Piri, Brian The Brain). Historical telemetry and flight recorder data logs for Eagle flights and other space missions are also stored in the computer memory banks (Breakaway, Dragon's Domain).

Medical/Diagnostic Computer

End Of Eternity

Most Year 1 medical wards have standard X5 computer units. They continuously monitor the medical condition of all Alphans and alert the Medical Centre staff in case of abnormal readings (Force Of Life reporting "Life Functions Terminated", Dragon's Domain where Dr.Russell refers to the "medical computer"). Personal medical profiles are also stored (Earthbound; Matter Of Life And Death, Devil's Planet). The medical computers also control blood transfusions and other medical procedures (Guardian Of Piri where one of the panels reads "Diagnostic Computer"). The Year 2 Medical Centre computer panels are slightly different but they apparently perform the same functions.

Like other users, Medical Centre personnel frequently use Computer as an "expert system"; information is fed into it manually by doctors or automatically by medical sensors and Computer then issues conclusions and recommendations (Breakaway; Maya also refers to "computer hypotheses" in A Matter of Balance)

The Troubled Spirit

The panel at lower right is used for "blood transfusion treatment and service unit measures" according to the label. There are four output vents labelled A,B,C,D, below the four coloured buttons at left. The analogue instruments carry labels such as "Flow" and "Pressure". The coloured lights at right possibly indicate computer network communications activity. This panel is used for other purposes as well, in the Year 1 computer room, nuclear generating areas and sometimes in Eagle passenger modules.

Eagle Onboard Computers

The A B Chrysalis

The basic Eagle Transporter is equipped with an internal flight computer, see separate article for details. Some exploration missions also carry an additional X5 computer system in the passenger pod for navigation, crew health monitoring and planetary analysis. This system consists of seven rows of panels arranged in five columns. The panels are identical to the ones used inside Moonbase Alpha.

Copyright Martin Willey
Thanks to Marcus Lindroos