Today in Apple history: Macintosh SE/30 makes good on Mac’s promise

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The Mac SE/30 was the greatest Mac of its generation.
The Mac SE/30 was the greatest Mac of its generation.
Photo: Danamania/Wikipedia CC

January 19: Today in Apple history January 19, 1989: Apple introduces the Macintosh SE/30, arguably the greatest of the classic black-and-white compact Macs.

The SE/30 boasts a 16-MHz 68030 processor, either 40MB or 80MB hard drive, and a choice of 1MB or 4MB of RAM as standard — which, amazingly, can be expanded up to a whopping 128MB. Oh, and it packs a 1.4 MB SuperDrive, too.

When you picture the ideal 1980s Macintosh, this is likely the machine that comes to mind. And for good reason!

The Mac SE/30 delivered the goods

As I’ve written before in “Today in Apple history,” even the hardcore Mac fan would admit that the computer’s earliest incarnation was exciting largely because of what it had the potential to deliver.

As Douglas Adams of The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy fame once observed, “What I (and I think everyone who bought [the Mac] in the early days) fell in love with was not the machine itself, which was ridiculously slow and underpowered, but a romantic idea of the machine. And that romantic idea had to sustain me through the realities of actually working on the 128K Mac.”

The Mac SE/30 was the speediest Mac around
The Mac SE/30 was the speediest Mac around.
Photo: Motorola

Things got considerably better when the Macintosh Plus shipped two years after the original Mac made its debut. However, it wasn’t until the SE/30 that the Mac hit its stride. In everything from the elegance of its OS to its sheer hardware horsepower, this computer faced few rivals.

The SE/30 truly showed its strength when System 7 arrived in 1991. At that point, earlier Macs began to look decidedly decrepit.

The SE/30 was discontinued that year, but it remained a workhorse of a computer that continued to be found in many offices, research labs and homes during the first half of the 1990s.

The Macintosh SE/30 in TV and movies

It also made several appearances on TV and in the movies, with the most notable being as the first Macintosh to appear in Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment in the early seasons of Seinfeld. (Later it got replaced with a PowerBook Duo and then a Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh.)

Do you remember the Macintosh SE/30? Leave your comments below.

Spec source: EveryMac