Today in Apple history: Macintosh SE gets supersized storage

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The Mac SE FDHD was a mouthful to say -- but what a computer!
The Mac SE FDHD was a mouthful to say -- but what a computer!
Photo: Vetronic's Apple World

August 1: Today in Apple history: Macintosh SE gets supersized storage August 1, 1989: Apple gives the Macintosh SE a storage bump, courtesy of the new SuperDrive. Capable of handling high-density floppy discs, the drive offers an astonishing 1.4MB of storage.

In terms of portable storage, it’s a big step up for most Mac owners. The HD floppy disks compare very favorably to the 400KB Single Side Double Density (SSDD) disks and 800KB Double Side Double Density (DDSD) disks in use at the time.

Apple SuperDrive makes Mac SE FDHD super-versatile

In addition to storing 1.4MB of data, the Apple SuperDrive could read and write IBM-format floppy disks and 3.5-inch DOS disks (provided you had the right software). Like the amount of storage space, both of these formats sound antiquated now. But at the time, they made the Mac SE one of the most versatile Macs around. It could read and write all industry-standard floppy disk formats.

(Incidentally, if you’re on the lookout to buy a vintage Mac SE, the Mac SE FDHD is by far your best option. Reading or writing 400K or 800K 3.5-inch floppy disks today is virtually impossible using modern technology.)

Introduced in 1987, the Macintosh SE was overshadowed at the time by the launch of the technically superior Mac II. Apple advertised the Mac II as the first Macintosh to support color.

In a move that would have upset Steve Jobs had he still been at Apple, the Mac SE was the first Macintosh to include an internal fan to cool components. That made it noisy to use, but led to greater life expectancy.

Macintosh SE gains a loyal following

Despite this, the Mac SE FDHD picked up a loyal following. The first compact Macintosh with an internal drive bay for a hard disk or second floppy drive, it was also the first expandable Mac.

It was an attempt at creating a Mac for businesses. And while it looked much the same as the original 1984 Macintosh, it included some impressive improvements under the hood in terms of processing power.

The Mac SE was one of the first Macs I ever saw. It definitely took me a few years to become a fan. However, it’s a computer I’ll always remember for just how far ahead of the competition it appeared.

I’m certainly not alone in my Mac SE love, either. A Mac SE sat on Jerry’s desk for the first few seasons of Seinfeld, before it was superseded by a PowerBook Duo, a Macintosh 6100 and finally a Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh.

Do you remember the Macintosh SE? Leave your thoughts and recollections below.

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