Macintosh SE/30

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Macintosh SE/30
Release date January 19, 1989; 28 years ago (1989-01-19)
Introductory price US$4,369 (1MB RAM, No hard disk), US$4,869 (1MB RAM, 40MB Hard disk), US$6,569 (4MB RAM, 80MB Hard disk)[1]
Discontinued October 21, 1991 (1991-10-21)
Operating system

System 6.0.3 – System 7.5.5

With a 32-bit clean ROM upgrade, Mac OS 7.6 - Mac OS 8.1
CPU Motorola 68030 @ 16 MHz
Memory 1 MB RAM (120 ns 30-pin SIMM), expandable to 128 MB
Predecessor Macintosh SE
Successor Macintosh Classic II

The Macintosh SE/30 is a personal computer that was designed, manufactured and sold by Apple Computer, Inc. from 1989 until 1991. It was the fastest of the original black-and-white compact Macintosh series.

The SE/30 has a black-and-white monitor and a single PDS slot (rather than the NuBus slots of the IIx) which supported third-party accelerators, network cards, or a display adapter. Although officially only able to support 32 MB, the SE/30 could expand up to 128 MB of RAM (a significant amount of RAM at the time), and included a 40 or 80 MB hard drive. It was also the first compact Mac to include a 1.44 MB high density floppy disk drive as standard (late versions of the SE had one, but earlier versions did not). In keeping with Apple's practice from the Apple II+ until the Power Macintosh G3 was announced, a logic board upgrade was available to convert a regular SE to a SE/30. The SE would then have exactly the same specs as an SE/30, with the difference only in the floppy drive if the SE had an 800 KB drive. The set included a new front bezel to replace the original SE bezel with that of an SE/30.

In the naming scheme used at that time, Apple indicated the presence of a 68030 processor by adding the letter "x" to a model's name, but when the Macintosh SE was updated to the 68030, this posed an awkward problem, as Apple was not willing to name their new computer the "Macintosh SEx". Thus, "SE/30" was the name chosen. Internally, code names such as Green Jade, Fafnir, and Roadrunner were used.[2]


Although it used 32-bit instructions like all early Macs[citation needed], the SE/30 ROM, like the IIx ROM, included some code using 24-bit addressing, rendering the ROM "32-bit dirty". This limited the actual amount of RAM that could be accessed to just 8 MB under System 6.0.8. A system extension called MODE32 enabled access to installed extra memory under System 6.0.8. Under System 7.0 up to System 7.5.5 the SE/30 can use up to 128 MB of RAM. Alternatively, replacing the ROM SIMM with one from a Mac IIsi or Mac IIfx makes the SE/30 "32-bit clean" and thereby enables use of up to 128 MB RAM and System 7.5 through OS 8.1.[3]

A standard SE/30 can run up to System 7.5.5,[4] since Mac OS 7.6 requires a 32-bit clean ROM.[5]

Additionally, the SE/30 can run A/UX, Apple's older version of a Unix that was able to run Macintosh programs.[6]

Though there was no official upgrade path for the SE/30, several third-party processor upgrades were available. A 68040 upgrade made it possible to run Mac OS 8.1, which extended the SE/30's productive life for many more years. The Micron Technology Xceed Gray-Scale 30 video card fit into the SE/30's PDS slot, enabling in to display greyscale video on its internal display, the only non-color compact Mac able to do so.[7][8]

This machine was followed in 1991 by the Macintosh Classic II, which, despite the same processor and clock speed, was only 60% as fast as the SE/30 due to its 16-bit data path,[9] supported no more than 10 MB of memory, lacked an internal expansion slot, and made the Motorola 68882 FPU an optional upgrade. Apple at the time de-emphasized the compact, all-in-one Macintosh in favor of a more expandable, modular system architecture, as seen in the Macintosh II and Quadra series.


Bruce F. Webster wrote in Macworld in March 1989 that the SE/30 did not "break new ground. It does, however, establish Apple's commitment to the classic Mac product line, and it provides users with an Apple-supported alternative to either a small, slow Mac or a large, powerful one. More important, it fills a gap in the Macintosh family ... a new level of power and portability for the Macintosh community".[10]


In a January 2009 Macworld feature commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Macintosh, three industry commentators – Adam C. Engst of TidBITS, John Gruber of Daring Fireball, and John Siracusa of Ars Technica – chose the SE/30 as their favorite Mac model of all time. "Like any great Mac," wrote Gruber, "the SE/30 wasn't just a terrific system just when it debuted; it remained eminently usable for years to come. When I think of the original Mac era, the machine in my mind is the SE/30."

Popular culture[edit]

In the NBC TV series Seinfeld, Jerry has an SE/30 sitting on his desk during the first seasons. This would be the first of many Macs to occupy the desk, including a PowerBook Duo and a Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh.

In the FX series It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, the waitress is seen with a Macintosh SE/30 on her bedroom desk in the episode "The Gang Gives Back".

In the film Watchmen, Ozymandias has an all-black TEMPEST-shielded SE/30 on his desk.[citation needed]

Timeline of compact Macintosh models

Power Macintosh Macintosh LC 520#LC 520 PowerBook Macintosh LC Macintosh Portable Macintosh II Apple IIe Macintosh Color Classic Macintosh Classic II Macintosh Color Classic Macintosh SE/30 Macintosh Classic Macintosh Plus Macintosh SE FDHD Macintosh Plus Macintosh XL Macintosh SE Macintosh 512Ke Apple Lisa Macintosh 128K Macintosh 512K

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "InfoWorld March 27, 1989". 
  2. ^ Linzmayer, Owen W. (2004). Apple Confidential 2.0. No Starch Press. p. 48. ISBN 1-59327-010-0. 
  3. ^ The Apple Macintosh SE/30
  4. ^ "Lowendmac". 
  5. ^ "Lowendmac". Minimum requirements for Mac OS 7.6 included a 68030 CPU, "32-bit clean" ROMs, 8 MB of RAM (12-16 MB recommended), and 70 MB of hard drive space. It no longer supported 24-bit addressing or classic Mac networking (it used OpenTransport exclusively). 
  6. ^ "A/UX FAQ". A/UX 3.0 works on the Mac II (with PMMU or 68030 upgrade with FDHD ROM's installed), IIx, IIcx, IIci, IIfx, SE/30, IIsi (with 68882 chip) and the Quadra 700/900/950 computers. 
  7. ^ "SE/30 GrayScale ScreenShots". 
  8. ^ "Lowendmac". 
  9. ^ "Lowendmac". 
  10. ^ Webster, Bruce F. (March 1989). "The Mac SE Turns 030". Macworld. pp. 112–117. Retrieved 20 August 2016. 

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