HAL had this cousin, see?
Dude, it ain't no Dell:)
So, what's a 6581?
Okay, so defining something by what it's not is pretty dumb. It is an IBM 'Select-a-bus' Personal Computer, in my case ISA/VESA bus. The concept's actually kinda cool - a PC that is not limited to one solitary bus architecture. and there's a couple of mixed-bus architecture critters out there, they had some nifty features beyond the mixed-bus architecture, such as PCMCIA card bay provisions, pretty decent expansion capabilities (espescially in the 6x8x critters). 25Mhz 486's were the slowest processor supplied. Like PS/2 machines, the target audience was business: the machine here used to be a teller workstation for a bank.
PC 300/700 Family: 6571 6581 ISA/VESA 6573 6583 ISA/PCI 6575 6585 ISA/PCI 6576 6586 ISA/PCI 6875 6885 ISA/PCI 6876 6886 MCA/PCI
Some Select-a-bus links
Why we know HAL is a close relative
Well of course there's the theory of proximity: HAL came from Champaign-Urbana IL and I'm just down the road in Decatur. It has some oddities about it that... well, have made life interesting from time to time. Of course, Operator Error has probably entered into one or more of the following oddities on more than one occasion...
Sometimes... rather than fight the tide you have to just bobble along with it. Forcing the 6581 into Warpdom was clearly not happening, at least not with the right SIMMs it's not. So it sat unused for some time... until I wanted to adventure back out into the world of DOS.
Fast DOS Box
So... what the 6581 does an exceptionally good job at, is be an extraordinarily fast DOS box. I was wanting to play around with the Arachne Web Browser (see also HERE)... but in a timesliced OS/2 VDM performance was less than exhilirating. On the 6581, I have more than enough XMS memory to be able to run both a decent-sized SMARTDRV cache as well as load the entire Arachne browser onto a RAM disk. Why would a person want to do that?
Arachne, quite simply is the first software product in a long time that I've been amazed by. It is a fully-featured WWW browser with a mail client & DOS PPP driver... and it works exceptionally well. My only complaint (such that it is) is that as a longtime OS/2er I've gotten used to the whole idea of CTRL-ESCing or ALT-TABbing to another task while I'm doing something else. Lemmie tell ya, CTRL-ESC & ALT-TAB are hard habits to break. Arachne shouldn't be run from DOSSHELL task-switching environment (so cautions it's designer, Michael Polak). But, once you have these DOS-based restrictions in mind, Arachne proves to be a very capable browser, doing frames, ftp'ing, all sorts of good stuff, with a minimum of resource use (like anything else, it's always happier with more... but Arachne's resource use is but a fraction of a fraction of some other well-known browsers - Yo! Netscape- Take note!)
This has allowed me to use the 6581 for some happy & fruitful purposes, finally. I get to play around with DOS again - which, if limited when compared to OS/2, does offer a wealth of tinkering possibilities:) And I probably haven't completely given up running Warp on this machine yet; indeed, the 6581 ultimately has greater expansion capabilities than the 9577, provided I use the correct parts.
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