Resurrecting a Macintosh SE/30 #VintageComputing @apple @atthehackofdawn

Vintage computers have a way of calling to people. Maybe you have wanted one since “back in the day” or that they have interesting capabilities you’d like to explore. Matt Evans goes on a journey to own a functional Apple Macintosh SE/30 which sounds simple but is tougher than it sounds.

I’ve always wanted an Apple Macintosh SE/30. Released in 1989, they look quite a lot like the other members of the original “compact Mac” series, but pack in a ton of interesting features that the other compact Macs don’t have.

The key technical difference between the SE/30 and the other compact Macs is that the SE/30 is much much less crap. It’s like a sleeper workstation, compared to the Mac Plus, SE, or Classic. 8MHz 68K? No! ~16MHz 68030. Emulating FP on a slow 68K? No! It ships with a real FPU! Limited to 4MB of RAM? Naw, this thing takes up to 128MB!

… not only has this machine a bunch of capability RAM-wise and CPU-wise, but this machine has an MMU. In my book, MMUs make things interesting (as well as ‘interesting’). Unlike all the other compact Macs, this one can run real operating systems like BSD, and Linux. And, I needed to experience A/UX first-hand.

Matt’s first purchase didn’t turn out so well:

Oh, did I mention that these machines are practically guaranteed to self-destruct because either the on-board electrolytic caps ooze out gross stuff, or the on-board Varta lithium battery poos its plentiful and corrosive contents over the logic board?

With the first one corroded beyond repair, Matt obtains a second one that had been ‘professionally re-capped’, and came with the maximum 128MB of RAM, and a sought-after Ethernet card.

But that wasn’t the end of the tale – some more debugging was needed, then fun with A/UX – Unix on a Mac.

Read more in the blog post.


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