Macintosh SE

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Macintosh SE
CPU: 8 MHz 68000
RAM: 150ns 30-pin SIMM, 1 MB standard (0 onboard plus 4 slots), 4 MB max
Hard drive: (Optional) 20 MB SCSI
Form factor: all-in-one
OS: (4.1-7.5.5)
Available: March 2, 1987-October 15, 1990
MSRP: US$2900

Released alongside Apple's new flagship Macintosh II desktop machine, the Macintosh SE was designated as being Apple's mainstream business machine. Far more than just being 'the next Mac', the SE actually brought a lot of new features to the series.


The original Mac 128 and the Mac 512 had both had one major drawback: a total lack of expansion. The original Macintosh ethic had eschewed expansion of any kind and it was only with the release of the Macintosh Plus and it's SCSI port that users had been able to expand their machines without having to pop the hood and delve inside the maze of electronics. The most common accessory that users were adding at the time were hard disks and Apple decided that maybe the time was right to give the venerable Mac some serious storage - especially as the new Macintosh II was shipping with an optional hard drive.

The SE shipped in two flavours, either a dual floppy version (retailing for $2900) or a a floppy-hard drive version (retailing for $3700). For that extra $800 users were rewarded with an internally fitted 20Mb SCSI hard drive but, drive aside, the two machines were identical so users were not only able to add a hard drive at a later date but could, with a little ingenuity, fit a hard drive and still retain the dual floppy drives. Originally shipping with 800Kb floppy drives, Apple switched to using the new 1.44Mb 'superdrive' in August 1989 but this was not an upgrade that could be applied retrospectively (the floppy controller is unable to handle 1.44Mb disks and will go belly up if a 1.44Mb drive is hooked up and a 1.44Mb disk inserted).

As well as the switch in drives, the SE also provided users with another first for an all-in-one Mac: an expansion slot. Now users could add clever gadgetry such as network cards, video cards and even accelerator cards. The final trick in the SE's expansion arsenal was the adoption of the Apple Desktop Bus (ADB). ADB theoretically allowed multiple devices to be hooked up to a single port but in reality only mice and keyboards ever really made use of it (the SE ditched the serial mouse and phone-style connected keyboard used in the 128, 512 and Plus).

The SE certainly brought a lot to the all-in-one Macintosh line but it also lost one thing as all of the extra drives meant that cooling was becoming a problem. For this reason the SE was the first all-in-one Mac to ship with an internal fan. No longer would the Macintosh run silently.

Full Specifications

  • CPU: 8MHz Motorola 68000
  • FPU: None
  • ROM: 256Kb
  • RAM: 1Mb - 4Mb
  • Display: Internal 9" b&w screen
  • Resolution: 512 x 342 pixels
  • Audio: 8-bit mono 22Khz
  • Floppy: 1x (or 2x) 800Kb 3.5" (1.44Mb as of 01/08/1989)
  • Hard drive: 20Mb (optional)
  • Drive bay(s): 2x3.5" half-height
  • Size (HxWxD): 13.6" x 9.6" x 10.9"
  • Weight: 17 lb
  • Gestalt ID: 5
  • Addressing: 24 bit
  • Battery: 3.6V Lithium
  • Expansion slots: 1xSE Expansion Slot
  • Ports: 2xSerial, SCSI (25 pin), 2xADB, Floppy, Audio (out)
  • Introduced: 02/03/1987 / 01/08/1989 (SuperDrive model)
  • Retired: 01/08/1989 / 15/10/1990 (SuperDrive model)
  • Cost: $2900 (dual floppy) / $3700 (with hard disk)
  • System: Mac OS 6.0.7 - 7.5.5
  • Code name(s): PlusPlus, Maui, Aladdin, Chablis, Freeport, Z^2, Mac ±
  • Upgrade path: SE/30