Altos didn't make the kind of microcomputer you might be familiar with, i.e., the single-user desktop.
Designed for the business environment, the Altos 586 is an advanced, multi-user system, with support for
up to six users logged into six different accounts, all at the same time (nine users on the Alto 986 system).
The Altos systems are attractive, beautifully sculptured plastic - not sheet metal like many other systems.
They are comparatively light-weight, powerful, and full-featured, with proprietary memory-management to counter poor 8086 CPU techniques.
A very advanced business system, with options unheard-of on competitors of the era - including a multi-user OS, networking, and email.
The Altos is also very expensive - over $10,000.
The Altos 586/986 runs XENIX, the Microsoft version of the popular UNIX operating system.
Optionally, the single-user CP/M or multi-user MP/M-86 can be installed instead.
The default system is comprised of two large circuit boards, and opens-up for easy maintenance and upgrades:
The lower PCB holds the 8086 CPU and 512K of RAM. A Z80 I/O processor supports the six serial ports,
floppy disc access, an RN422 LAN (AltosNet), and memory management components.
The upper PCB holds the hard disk and tape controller.
Another large PCB can be installed to enable ethernet networking and four additional serial ports.