Rolled out in January 1989, the SE/30 was the first compact Mac to come standard with the FDHD 1.4 MB floppy drive (a.k.a. SuperDrive) and support more than 4 MB of RAM. It was essentially a IIx in an SE case.
Although advertised as a 32-bit computer, the SE/30 ROMs were “dirty,” containing some 24-bit code, meaning it could not run 32-bit applications without new ROMs (which Apple never produced) or a software patch. To use the SE/30 in 32-bit mode, you need a free copy of Mode32 from Apple (search the page for “mode32”). (You only need 32-bit addressing if you have more than 8 MB of memory.)
The SE/30 offered the power of the IIx in a minimal footprint configuration. With the built-in 9″ screen, it was a popular network server.
The SE/30 has color QuickDraw built in, so it can be used to surf the Web. However, it requires a video card, such as the discontinued Micron Xceed, to display anything beyond black and white.
Did you know the SE/30 could display grays on the internal monitor? If you can get your hands on the Micron Xceed video card, it supports 8-bit video on an external monitor – or on the internal screen when no external monitor is attached. These cards are rare and highly valued.
Aura Systems made ScuzzyGraph II, a SCSI peripheral that provided 8-color video for people who didn’t want to buy (or couldn’t afford) a Mac II. 1989 cost was $995 to $2,495, depending on resolution.
The SE/30 can handle as large a 3.5″ half-height SCSI hard drive as you can find, another reason it’s long been popular as a server. To remove the hard drive: find the two screws holding the drive bracket in place. They will be facing the rear of the computer and underneath the drive itself. You’ll need a fairly long Phillips screwdriver to reach them – and you’ll need to disconnect the power and data cables before you can get to them. Once the screws are loose, lift the back and it should come out easily.
- Got a compact Mac? Join our Vintage Macs Group.
- LEM’s System 6 Group is for anyone using Mac System 6.
There is a ROM SIMM slot on the SE/30 which must be filled with a ROM. Without this ROM, the computer will not function.
We’ve seen several claims that replacing the SE/30’s ROM with a IIsi or IIfx ROM makes the SE/30 32-bit clean and allows use of Mac OS 8.1 (with a lot of fiddling). We are interested in hearing from anyone who has successfully put a IIsi or IIfx ROM into an SE/30 – and whether you got OS 8.1 running or not. (Note that the IIsi ROM is rare; most have the ROM soldered to the motherboard.) Dan Knight, publisher.
After the SE/30, Apple didn’t produce another compact Mac with an expansion slot until the Color Classic in February 1993.
- introduced 1989.01.19 at $4,400 ($4,900 with hard drive); discontinued 1990.10.21
- code names: Oreo, Double Stuffed, Green Jad
- Gestalt ID: 9
- Order no.: M5119
- requires system 6.0.3 to 7.5.5
- addressing: 24-bit or 32-bit (requires software enabler)
- CPU: 16 MHz 68030
- FPU: 16 MHz 68882
- ROM: 256 KB
- RAM: 1 MB, expandable to 128 MB using two 4-SIMM banks of 120ns 30-pin memory, compatible with 256 KB, 1 MB, 4 MB, and 16 MB SIMMs (although Apple does not certify it with 16 MB SIMMs)
- 3.2, relative to SE
- 3.9 MIPS
- 4.03, Speedometer 3.06
- 0.26, Speedometer 4
- see Benchmarks: SE/30 for more details
- 9″ b&w screen, 512 x 342 pixels
- Hard drive: none, 40 MB, or 80 MB SCSI
- floppy drive: 1.4 MB double-sided
- floppy connector on back of computer
- ADB ports: 2
- serial ports: 2 DIN-8 RS-422 ports on back of computer
- SCSI ports: DB-25 connector on back of computer
- expansion slots: 1 SE/30 PDS (same as IIsi except for bus speed)
- size (HxWxD): 13.6″ x 9.6″ x 10.9″
- Weight: 19.5 lb.
- PRAM battery: 3.6V half-AA
- power supply: 100W
Accelerators & Upgrades
- Sonnet Allegro SE/30 (33 MHz 68030), discontinued. I have one field report that this accelerator has problems with 1.4 MB floppies, but works fine with 800 KB ones. Be sure you know your return options and test this if you buy one.
- Daystar Turbo 040 (33 MHz, 40 MHz 68040), discontinued
- MicroMac Diimo/030 (50 MHz 68030), 64 KB cache, optional 50 MHz 68882 FPU, pass through connector for second card
Discontinued accelerators (68030 unless otherwise noted) include the DayStar Universal PowerCache (33, 40, 50 MHz), Fusion Data TokaMac SX (25 MHz 68040), and Total Systems Magellan 040 (25 MHz 68040).
- Guide to Compact Macs, a quick overview of Apple’s 10 compact Macs.
- Bringing a zebra stripe SE/30 back to life, Paul Brierley, The ‘Book Beat, 2009.02.19. The Japanese call it Simasimac, the horizontal striped pattern that indicates your Mac is terminal.
- Know Your Mac’s Upgrade Options, Phil Herlihy, The Usefulness Equation, 2008.08.26. Any Mac can be upgraded, but it’s a question of what can be upgraded – RAM, hard drive, video, CPU – and how far it can be upgraded.
- Why You Should Partition Your Mac’s Hard Drive, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.12.11. “At the very least, it makes sense to have a second partition with a bootable version of the Mac OS, so if you have problems with your work partition, you can boot from the ’emergency’ partition to run Disk Utility and other diagnostics.”
- Golden Apples: The 25 best Macs to date, Michelle Klein-Häss, Geek Speak, 2009.01.27. The best Macs from 1984 through 2009, including a couple that aren’t technically Macs.
- Creating Classic Mac Boot Floppies in OS X, Paul Brierley, The ‘Book Beat, 2008.08.07. Yes, it is possible to create a boot floppy for the Classic Mac OS using an OS X Mac that doesn’t have Classic. Here’s how.
- The Compressed Air Keyboard Repair, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.07.24. If your keyboard isn’t working as well as it once did, blasting under the keys with compressed air may be the cure.
- Tales of old Mac data retrieval, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2008.06.13. Getting apps and documents off 400K floppies, old disk images, and a Mac running System 5.
- The SE/30 That Does It All: Interview with an Expert Vintage Mac User, Giles Turnbull, Cult of Mac, 2008.10.16. The Wages family even uses this maxed out 1989 Macintosh SE/30 for surfing the Web!
- My compact Macs: Macintosh SE/30 and Classic II, Carl Nygren, Classic Macs in the Intel Age, 2008.06.11. Apple only made two 16 MHz black and white models in the classic compact Mac form factor, and they’re both great computers.
- 10 cult Macs adored by collectors, Tamara Keel, Digital Fossils, 2008.05.13. Macs are not only noted for their longevity, but also by the passion which collectors have for some of the most interesting models ever made.
- A Vintage Mac Network Can Be as Useful as a Modern One, Carl Nygren, My Turn, 2008.04.08. Old Macs can exchange data and share an Internet connection very nicely using Apple’s old LocalTalk networking.
- Low End Mac’s Best Classic Mac OS Deals. Best online prices for System 6, 7.1, 7.5.x, Mac OS 7.6, 8.0, 8.1, 8.5, 9.0, 9.2.2, and other versions.
- Vintage Mac Networking and File Exchange, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2007.12.19. How to network vintage Macs with modern Macs and tips on exchanging files using floppies, Zip disks, and other media.
- Getting Inside Vintage Macs and Swapping Out Bad Parts, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2007.12.14. When an old Mac dies, the best source of parts is usually another dead Mac with different failed parts.
- Solving Mac Startup Problems, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2007.12.12. When your old Mac won’t boot, the most likely culprits are a dead PRAM battery or a failed (or failing) hard drive.
- Better and Safer Surfing with Internet Explorer and the Classic Mac OS, Max Wallgren, Mac Daniel, 2007.11.06. Tips on which browsers work best with different Mac OS versions plus extra software to clean cookies and caches, detect viruses, handle downloads, etc.
- A (Mac) classic spookfest, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2007.10.31. How to set up those old compact Macs with screen savers to enhance your Halloween experience.
- Simple Macs for Simple Tasks, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2007.10.19. Long live 680×0 Macs and the classic Mac OS. For simple tasks such as writing, they can provide a great, low distraction environment.
- Interchangeabilty and Compatibility of Apple 1.4 MB Floppy SuperDrives, Sonic Purity, Mac Daniel, 2007.09.26. Apple used two kinds of high-density floppy drives on Macs, auto-inject and manual inject. Can they be swapped?
- 4 steps for resurrecting old Macs, Sonic Purity, Mac Daniel, 2007.07.18. Hardware problems may be solved with a thorough cleaning, deoxidizing electrical contacts, replacing failed capacitors, and/or repairing broken solder joints.
- Leopard compatibility list, bad capacitors kill Macs, 1 GHz G3 upgrade resurrected, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2007.06.26. Also tips for troublesome OS X installs, ‘About This Mac’ sometimes lies, PowerBook advice, and aluminum PowerBook design.
- My first mobile Mac: A Classic II, Jacek A. Rochacki, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2007.06.25. When a PowerBook 100 was beyond the author’s means, he bought a second-hand Mac Classic II and fabricated his own carrying case to make it mobile.
- Mac System 7.5.5 Can Do Anything Mac OS 7.6.1 Can, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2007.06.04. Yes, it is possible to run Internet Explorer 5.1.7 and SoundJam with System 7.5.5. You just need to have all the updates – and make one modification for SoundJam.
- The Truth About CRTs and Shock Danger, Tom Lee, Online Tech Journal, 2007.05.22. You’ve been warned that CRT voltage can injure and even kill. The truth is that this danger is overstated – and takes attention away from a greater danger.
- Format Any Drive for Older Macs with Patched Apple Tools, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2007.04.25. Apple HD SC Setup and Drive Setup only work with Apple branded hard drives – until you apply the patches linked to this article.
- Macintosh SEx, RetroMacCast, 2007.03.31. James and John look at the Mac SE/30 and discuss a “top ten” list of Apple flops.
- Making floppies and CDs for older Macs using modern Macs, Windows, and Linux PCs, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2007.03.15. Older Macs use HFS floppies and CDs. Here are the free resources you’ll need to write floppies or CDs for vintage Macs using your modern computer.
- System 7 Today, advocates of Apple’s ‘orphan’ Mac OS 7.6.1, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2006.10.26. Why Mac OS 7.6.1 is far better for 68040 and PowerPC Macs than System 7.5.x.
- The legendary Apple Extended Keyboard, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2006.10.13. Introduced in 1987, this extended keyboard was well designed and very solidly built. It remains a favorite of long-time Mac users.
- 30 days of old school computing: No real hardships, Ted Hodges, Vintage Mac Living, 2006.10.11. These old black-and-white Macs are just fine for messaging, word processing, spreadsheets, scheduling, contact management, and browsing the Web.
- Jag’s House, where older Macs still rock, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2006.09.25. Over a decade old, Jag’s House is the oldest Mac website supporting classic Macs and remains a great resource for vintage Mac users.
- Mac OS 8 and 8.1: Maximum Size, Maximum Convenience, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2006.09.11. Mac OS 8 and 8.1 add some useful new features and tools, and it can even be practical on 68030-based Macs.
- 30 days of old school computing: Setting up a Mac Classic II, Ted Hodges, Vintage Mac Living, 2006.09.07. Fond memories of using a Classic II in elementary school lead to it being the first Mac set up for a month of vintage, very low-end computing.
- Vintage Macs with System 6 run circles around 3 GHz Windows 2000 PC, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2006.07.06. Which grows faster, hardware speed or software bloat? These benchmarks show vintage Macs let you be productive much more quickly than modern Windows PCs.
- Floppy drive observations: A compleat guide to Mac floppy drives and disk formats, Scott Baret, Online Tech Journal, 2006.06.29. A history of the Mac floppy from the 400K drive in the Mac 128K through the manual-inject 1.4M SuperDrives used in the late 1990s.
- Compact Flash with SCSI Macs, PB 1400 CD-RW upgrade problems, and Web incompatibilities, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2006.06.16. Suggested ways to use Compact Flash with vintage Macs and PowerBooks, problems getting CD-RW to work with a PowerBook 1400, and more thoughts on website incompatibilities.
- Mac nostalgia: Why Apple should introduce a modern Pismo and SE/30, Matthew Wright, My Turn, 2006.06.14. The best PowerBook ever made and the iconic all-in-one compact Mac are just crying out to be reinvented for our nostalgic “everything old is new again” retro culture.
- Moving files from your new Mac to your vintage Mac, Paul Brierley, The ‘Book Beat, 2006.06.13. Old Macs use floppies; new ones don’t. Old Macs use AppleTalk; Tiger doesn’t support it. New Macs can burn CDs, but old CD drives can’t always read CD-R. So how do you move the files?
- Pismo downgrade a treat, IE for OS X, pimp my SE/30, education market reality, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2006.09.06. Also a church looking for five Macs for a cybercafé, another ADB mouse source, why not USB?, and LEM had the answer all along.
- Need IE for Mac, looking for ADB mouse, IIfx ROM in SE/30, Mac family numbers, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2006.06.06. Also where to find better RAM prices, drivers for the StyleWriter 2400, and a new URL for downloading System 6.0.x.
- System 7.6.1 is perfect for many older Macs, John Martorana, That Old Mac Magic, 2006.03.24. Want the best speed from your old Mac? System 7.6.1 can give you that with a fairly small memory footprint – also helpful on older Macs.
- System 7.5 and Mac OS 7.6: The beginning and end of an era, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2006.02.15. System 7.5 and Mac OS 7.6 introduced many new features and greater modernity while staying within reach of most early Macintosh models.
- System 7: Bigger, better, more expandable, and a bit slower than System 6, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2006.01.04. The early versions of System 7 provide broader capability for modern tasks than System 6 while still being practical for even the lowliest Macs.
- Web browser tips for the classic Mac OS, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2006.01.03. Tips on getting the most out of WaMCom, Mozilla, Internet Explorer, iCab, Opera, and WannaBe using the classic Mac OS.
- The Joy of Six: Apple’s fast, svelte, reliable, and still usable System 6, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2005.12.06. System 6 was small enough to run quickly from an 800K floppy yet powerful enough to support 2 GB partitions, 24-bit video, and the Internet.
- 10 things new classic Mac owners should know, Paul Brierley, The ‘Book Beat, 2005.12.06. New to compact Macs? Ten things you really should know before you get too confused.
- How to set up your own Mac Plus (or later) web server, Joe Rivera, Mac Fallout Shelter, 2005.11.29. All you need is an old Mac Plus with 4 MB of RAM, a hard drive, System 7 or later, some free software, and an Internet connection.
- The legendary DayStar Turbo 040 hot rods 68030 Macs, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2005.11.29. DayStar’s vintage upgrade can make an SE/30 and most models in the Mac II series faster than the ‘wicked fast’ Mac IIfx.
- Which system software is best for my vintage Mac?, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2005.11.22. Which system software works best depends to a great extent on just which Mac you have and how much RAM is installed.
- How to install an ethernet card in an SE/30, Mac Legacy.
- Macintosh SE/30: An adventure back in time, Eric Conrad. “Sadly on top of it it had a tag that said ‘Please dispose’.” And lots of photos.
- A top-secret one-of-a-kind Mac, Leander Kahney, Wired, 2002.04.15. “Tempest” SE/30 – could it really be unique?
- 50 MHz SE/30 running Mac OS 8.1, Manfred Huchler, 2002.01. IIfx ROMs make it 32-bit clean, 20 MB RAM makes 8.1 feasible, and Vintage Box software makes installing and running 8.1 possible. Too bad there’s not one more slot for a grayscale video card….
- SE/30 grayscale screenshots, Gamba, 2001.07.16. Homemade clone of Xceed card provides 8-bit internal video.
- The original Macintosh, Dan Knight, Online Tech Journal, 2001.05.29. An in-depth look at the original Macintosh and how it shaped future Macs.
- Macintosh SE Support Pages, Chris Adams
- Profiles of SE/30 video cards
- PC techie finds Macs great, Luc Delorme, My First Mac, 2000.09.26. An avid PC user and techie learns to love the Mac.
- Best compact Mac for QuickTime, Chris Lawson, 2000.08.30
- Games for ‘030s, Brian Rumsey, Low End Mac Gaming, 2000.05.26. A look at games that run nicely on the old 68030-based Macs.
- Making a video adjustment tool, Chris Lawson, 2000.03.24. Would you believe you can craft one from an old toothbrush?
- Why Should I Choose System 6 for the Mac II Family?, Manuel Mejia, Mac Daniel, 1999.12.13. If they can use System 7, why use System 6?
- System 6 for the Macintosh, Ruud Dingemans. If you have an older, slower, memory-limited Mac, System 6 is fast, stable, and still very usable.
- Cruising the Web in black & white, John C. Foster, MacWeek, 1999.10.20, no longer online
- Faster browsing on older Macs, Online Tech Journal
- SE saga, Steve Wood
- Information on 32-bit addressing
- Email lists: Classic Macs Digest, Vintage Macs
- System6, the email list for those who choose to use System 6.0.x.
- Memory upgrade guide
- Links to System 6.0.8 and 7.0.1
- User report: Micron Xceed video card
- Unix? You can run NetBSD (a.k.a. MacBSD), a version of Unix, on the SE/30.
- Macintosh SE/30 Technical Specifications, Apple Knowledge Base Archive
- Never connect an Apple II 5.25″ floppy drive to the Mac’s floppy port. Doing so can ruin the floppy controller, meaning you can’t even use the internal drive any longer.
- That monitor packs a lot of voltage. Read Compact Mac CRT Energy before working inside.
- Macs with black-and-white only displays (1-bit, no grays) may find Netscape Navigator 3 makes it impossible to view some pages and sites. The workaround is to use Navigator 2 or 4.
- Mode32 or Apple’s 32-bit Enabler required to access more than 8 MB RAM. (Mode32 v7. works with System 7.5; Apple’s enabler does not.)
- Serial port normally restricted to 57.6 kbps; throughput with a 56k modem may be limited. See 56k modem page. For more information on Mac serial ports, read Macintosh Serial Throughput.
- Apple discontinued support and parts orders for this model on 1998.08.31. You may be able to find dealers with parts inventory either locally or on our parts and service list.
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