|Release date||January 19, 1989|
|Discontinued||October 21, 1991|
|Operating system||System 6.0.3 - Mac OS 8.1 (with 68040 processor upgrade)|
|CPU||Motorola 68030 @ 16 MHz|
|Memory||1 MB, expandable to 128 MB (120 ns 30-pin SIMM)|
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 and most expandable of the original black-and-white compact Macintosh series.
The SE/30 is essentially a Macintosh IIx in the same case as the Macintosh SE, with 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 ludicrous 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). Conversion sets were sold to convert a regular SE to a SE/30. The SE would then have the exact same specs as an SE/30, with the difference only in the floppy drive if the SE had a 800k drive. The set included a new front bezel to replace the original SE bezel with that of an SE/30.
Apple had 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 like Green Jade, Fafnir, and Roadrunner were used.
Although using 32 bit data and instructions like all early Macs, 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. The solution was to use a system extension called MODE32 which enabled access to the extra memory (if installed). Alternatively it has been found that 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.
With some software hacks and the correct processor upgrade card, it also becomes possible to run Mac OS 8.0 or Mac OS 8.1, the last version of the classic Mac OS which would run on a 68k CPU. A standard SE/30 can run up to System 7.5.5, Mac OS 7.6 requiring a 32 bit clean ROM.
Additionally, the SE/30 is able to run A/UX, Apple's older version of a Unix that was able to run Macintosh programs.
Though there was no official upgrade path for the SE/30, several third party processor upgrades were available, specifically a 68040 upgrade made it possible to run Mac OS 8.1, which kept the SE/30 relevant and productive for many more years than it would have otherwise been.
This machine was followed in 1991 by the Macintosh Classic II, a machine which was only 60% as fast as the SE/30, supported no more than 10 MB of memory, and lacked an internal expansion slot. Apple at this time was de-emphasizing the compact, all-in-one nature of the Macintosh in favor of a more expandable, PC-like system architecture as seen in the Macintosh II and Quadra series.
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 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."
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 share the desk, including a PowerBook Duo and a Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh.