Macintosh DOS Compatibles: Elegant Solution

Multi-platform solutions are increasingly necessary in this modern era of multi-vendor networks and client/server computing. For many users, their "dream machine" would combine a DOS/Windows PC and a Mac. Well, dream no more. . .Apple's new Macintosh DOS Compatibles have made physical that which was previously only a wish. And educators can get their hands on them now. A Quick Overview Available in both Macintosh LC and Power Macintosh flavors, these are dual-processor systems -- quite literally two computers in a single case. The "PC" processor is a 486 DX2 running at 66 MHz, while the Mac CPU is either a 68LC040 66/33 MHz or a 66 MHz PowerPC 601. All three operating systems (Mac OS, MS-DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.1) are pre-installed. Since the operating systems run simultaneously, programs run simultaneously. Imagine multi-tasking between Windows and Mac applications or cut-and-pasting between differently OS-based software programs -- the ultimate in flexibility. These are Macintoshes first, however; actual system control originates from the Mac's CPU. These new "split-personality" Macs connect easily to a school's multi-vendor network to share resources such as printers, file servers and CD-ROM drives with other types of computers. They also boast integrated multimedia capabilities, as they include a double-speed CD-ROM drive, built-in stereo sound and a video-out connector to attach an external monitor or LCD projection panel. Who Needs Them? The new machines benefit certain types of users, many of whom work in academia. Administrators, for example, may need to run a DOS or Windows program that the district requires yet the instructional side of their school's network is all Mac-based. High school vocational teachers who teach AutoCAD (only available for DOS or Windows) might also want to utilize one of the many Mac 3D modeling packages. With a DOS Compatible Mac, students can do the 3D work under the Mac OS and then directly paste it into an AutoCAD drawing. Of course, instructors of all subjects and grade levels would benefit by being able to run their choice of courseware; limits vanish. Plus, all previous investments in software, training and hardware are protected. Any type of instructional lab would definitely gain from having one of the new machines, for seamless cross-platform linkage. The same holds true for administrative and support staff settings. Multimedia and courseware developers would likewise have an edge with such a tool at their disposal. Indeed, upon reflection, this list could go on and on. Mac LC Edition: Workhorse The key technical features of the Macintosh LC 630 DOS Compatible include 8MB of Mac RAM, expandable to 52MB, plus 4MB of dedicated DOS RAM on the DOS Compatibility Card. RAM can also be shared by the operating systems. A 500MB hard disk is standard, as is an Apple SuperDrive, which can read and write Mac, Windows, DOS, OS/2 and ProDOS (Apple II) files. A 14" Apple Color Plus monitor is included; other Apple monitors plus VGA and SuperVGA displays work as well. More than 32,000 colors are supported on displays up to 16" with Mac OS; under DOS/Windows, it supports 256 colors on current Apple displays at 640 x 480 resolution. Users can read DOS, Windows and Mac CD-ROMs. Stereo 8-bit audio is heard through a built-in speaker, headphones or external speakers via the sound jack; a microphone for input is included. CDs play back 16-bit stereo sound. Of course there is built-in AppleTalk networking plus a high-speed I/O slot for Ethernet or a fast modem, plus ports for hard disks, printers, etc., as well as the video-out port. A keyboard and mouse are also included. A video-in slot is also standard. With NTSC, PAL and SECAM video-input cards, importing full-motion video from videodiscs, VCRs or camcorders is a breeze. Teachers will be likely interested in adding an Apple Presentation System for recording to VCR tape or sending output to a large-screen monitor. An Apple TV Tuner lets TV channels be viewed in onscreen windows. Power Mac Edition: Racehorse It's full name is Power Macintosh 6100/66 DOS Compatible and it takes all of the features of the LC version and boosts them by the power of RISC, and then some. This model offers the maximum amount of power and cross-platform flexibility. First, its RISC-based PowerPC processor runs Mac and Power Mac-optimized programs at a brisk rate. It also comes with 16MB of Mac RAM, expandable to 72MB; up to 32MB of dedicated DOS RAM is possible. One highlight is dual-display support; it runs two monitors without an extra video card, so users can see Mac programs on one screen and DOS/Windows programs on the other -- simultaneously. In addition, its 486 DX2/66 DOS Compatibility Card has built-in Sound Blaster 16 support. CD-quality (16-bit) audio is supported for input as well. Plus Apple's PlainTalk technology handles speech recognition and text-to-speech functions. School language labs and bilingual settings could exploit this. Since a Power Mac DOS Compatible plugs right into a LocalTalk, Ethernet or Token Ring network, everyone on a school LAN can work in the environment of their choice and switch among them as needed at the touch of a key. Pricing and Availability Prices for K-12 educational institutions start at $1,899 for the LC 630 DOS Compatible and $2,682 for a Power Mac 6100/66 DOS Compatible. They are available now.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/1995 issue of THE Journal.