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Macintosh SE/30

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Macintosh SE/30
ManufacturerApple Computer
Product familyCompact Macintosh
Release dateJanuary 19, 1989; 35 years ago (1989-01-19)
Introductory priceUS$4,369 (equivalent to $10,740 in 2023)
DiscontinuedOctober 21, 1991; 32 years ago (1991-10-21)
Operating systemSystem 6.0.3System 7.5.5
With a 32-bit clean ROM upgrade, Mac OS 7.6 - Mac OS 8.1
CPUMotorola 68030 @ 15.667 MHz
Motorola 68882 FPU
Memory1 MB RAM, expandable to 128 MB (120 ns 30-pin SIMM)
Display9 in (23 cm) monochrome, 512 × 342
DimensionsHeight: 13.6 in (35 cm)
Width: 9.6 in (24 cm)
Depth: 10.9 in (28 cm)
Mass19.5 lb (8.8 kg)
PredecessorMacintosh SE
SuccessorMacintosh Classic
Macintosh Classic II
RelatedMacintosh IIx
Macintosh IIfx
Macintosh II
Macintosh IIcx
Macintosh IIci
Macintosh Portable

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

The SE/30 has a black-and-white monitor and a single Processor Direct Slot (rather than the NuBus slots of the IIx, with which the SE/30 shares a common architecture) which supported third-party accelerators, network cards, or a display adapter. 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). The power of the SE/30 was demonstrated by its use to produce the This Week newspaper, the first colour tabloid newspaper in the UK to use new, digital pre-press technology on a personal, desktop computer.

In keeping with Apple's practice, from the Apple II+ until the Power Macintosh G3 was announced, a logic board upgrade was available for US$1,699 to convert a regular SE to an 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.

Although this machine was succeeded in Q4 of 1990 by the Macintosh Classic, the SE/30 wasn't discontinued until 1991 by the Macintosh Classic II, which despite featuring the same processor and clock speed, was only 60% as fast as the SE/30 due to its 16-bit data path,[1] supported no more than 10 MB of memory, lacked an internal expansion slot, and made the Motorola 68882 FPU an optional upgrade.


Mainboard of the SE/30

Although the Motorola 68030 in the SE/30 supports 32-bit addressing, the SE/30 ROM, like the IIx ROM, includes some code using 24-bit addressing, rendering the ROM "32-bit dirty". This limits the actual amount of RAM that can be accessed to 8 MB under System 6.0.8.[2] A system extension called MODE32 enables 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 7.6.1.

A standard SE/30 can run up to System 7.5.5,[3] since Mac OS 7.6 requires a "32-bit clean" ROM.[4]

Additionally, the SE/30 can run A/UX, Apple's older version of Unix that was able to run Macintosh programs.[5]

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. Also extending the useful life of the SE30 were Micron Technology video cards. Three cards were available, which fit into the SE/30's Processor Direct Slot: the 8-bit Gray-Scale 30, the SE/306-48, 640x480 resolution 8-bit color, and SE/3010-78 1024x768 resolution 8-bit color. With the first, the internal display was 8-bit greyscale; the latter two were used with 13" and 14", respectively, external color monitors, while retaining 1-bit (black and white) on the internal monitor.[6]


  • Macintosh SE/30:[7] Available in multiple configurations.
    • US$4,369 (equivalent to $10,740 in 2023): 1 MB RAM, No hard disk
    • US$4,869 (equivalent to $11,970 in 2023): 1 MB RAM, 40 MB hard disk
    • US$6,569 (equivalent to $16,150 in 2023): 4 MB RAM, 80 MB hard disk[8]


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".[9]

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."

The SE/30 remains popular with hobbyists, and has been described as “the best computer Apple will ever make,”[10] with used models selling for a significant premium relative to other machines of the era. Contemporary PDS upgrades allowed an SE/30's internal monitor to be upgraded to support 256 shades of gray[11] (the only original-design Macintosh to support such an upgrade) or a 68040 processor, and the SE/30's standard RAM limit of 128 MB greatly exceeded even that of much later models such as the Color Classic and Macintosh LC II. In 2018, add-ons and software became available to add WiFi[10] and even make the SE/30 work as a remote control for Spotify.[12]

In 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[dubiousdiscuss] 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.[13]


Timeline of Compact Macintosh models
Power MacintoshMacintosh LC 520PowerBookMacintosh LCMacintosh PortableMacintosh II seriesApple IIeMacintosh Color ClassicMacintosh Classic IIMacintosh SEMacintosh SE/30Macintosh ClassicMacintosh PlusMacintosh SEMacintosh PlusMacintosh XLMacintosh SEMacintosh 512KeMacintosh 128KApple LisaMacintosh 512KMacintosh 128K


  1. ^ "Mac Classic II, a Compromised Mac". Low End Mac. March 12, 2014. Archived from the original on August 27, 2019. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  2. ^ Pogue, David; Schorr, Joseph (1999). MacWorld Mac Secrets, 5th Edition. IDG Books. pp. 461-462. ISBN 0-7645-4040-8.
  3. ^ "25 Years of the Mac SE/30". Low End Mac. January 19, 2014. Archived from the original on August 27, 2019. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  4. ^ "Lowendmac". Archived from the original on July 2, 2015. Retrieved July 2, 2015. 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).
  5. ^ "A/UX FAQ". Archived from the original on October 8, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2015. 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.
  6. ^ "SE/30 GrayScale ScreenShots". Archived from the original on June 12, 2002. Retrieved July 20, 2020.; "Micron Xceed for Mac SE/30". Low End Mac. September 2, 1999. Archived from the original on August 11, 2019. Retrieved August 11, 2019.; "Xceed SE/306-48" (PDF). August 15, 2023. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 31, 2022. Retrieved March 28, 2023.
  7. ^ "Macintosh SE/30: Technical Specifications". Apple. Archived from the original on January 9, 2015. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  8. ^ "Mac flashback: Original InfoWorld review of the Macintosh SE/30 (3/27/1989)". InfoWorld. January 24, 2014. Archived from the original on July 3, 2015. Retrieved July 2, 2015.; Green, Doug; Green, Denise (March 27, 1989). "Mac SE/30 Leapfrogs Past 68020 Generation of CPUs". InfoWorld. Vol. 11, no. 13. pp. 71–73. Archived from the original on September 20, 2022. Retrieved October 28, 2021.
  9. ^ Webster, Bruce F. (March 1989). "The Mac SE Turns 030". Macworld. Vol. 6, no. 3. pp. 112–117. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  10. ^ a b Benchoff, Brian (September 26, 2018). "Apple's Best Computer Gets WiFi". Hackaday. Archived from the original on August 10, 2019. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
  11. ^ "Micron Xceed for Mac SE/30". Low End Mac. September 2, 1999. Archived from the original on August 11, 2019. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  12. ^ Coward, Cameron (December 26, 2018). "A Macintosh SE/30 Spotify Music Player". Medium. Archived from the original on September 20, 2022. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
  13. ^ Diaz, Jesus (March 6, 2009). "Watchmen's Old School Macintosh SE/30". Gizmodo. Archived from the original on July 2, 2012. Retrieved September 2, 2020.