A Macintosh SE/30 after dark

Or, Flying toasters are a go

I can finally add a Mac SE/30 to my vintage collection.
I can finally add a Mac SE/30 to my vintage collection.

A few weeks ago, I received a nice and unexpected email from Roberto, a reader of my blogs, where he said he would like to donate me a Macintosh SE/30 since it was on my vintage Mac wishlist. I have already twenty Macs or so, but what could I say? I couldn’t let one of the prettiest compact Macs go to the recycler, so I gladly accepted the offer. It certainly soothes the pain I was feeling after having never received a PowerBook 170 that was promised to me and supposedly got lost.

And it certainly puts an end to my very personal saga with this Mac model. The Quest for the Holy SE/30 officially started back in 2002, although I had fallen in love with it a decade before, when I met the SE/30 in a graphic studio of a friend who asked for my assistance to finish a DTP project. I spent a whole week on that SE/30 running Aldus PageMaker and driving an Apple LaserWriter, and it was a hell of a time. So when my vintage collecting fever kicked in later, the SE/30 was one of my first targets.

First I was contacted by an acquaintance working in London. He said it had one soon to be decommissioned (yes, amazingly it was still used in an office environment as of late 2001), and we exchanged some emails to arrange shipping and everything. In his last email he wrote “Tomorrow morning I’m off to the post office to ask about shipping costs to Italy [where I was still living at the time]”. I never heard from him again. Every email I wrote him went henceforth unanswered.

Then another acquaintance, working in a large graphic & media company, told me they were throwing a bunch of ‘old Mac stuff’ away, and yes, there was a SE/30 among that stuff. So he said. We arranged a meeting (thankfully this time I could actually go where the ‘stuff’ was) and went to the Room Of The Discarded. He made his way through a pile of assorted computer parts and peripherals, and finally came up with… a Macintosh SE. Well… I already had one, and, and it was not a SE/30 but tempting anyway… But strange burn marks on the back weren’t a good sign. We tried to power it up, but the analogue bord was shot, as I imagined.

And these are just the first two episodes that come to mind. In these last seven years I frequently went this close to getting the beloved SE/30, but it never worked out, in a way or another. And no, I hadn’t even considered eBay. Shipping costs (especially from the United States) for a well packaged SE/30 are prohibitive and much higher than what the Mac itself is worth today.

The SE/30 arrived last Monday, with two issues. The first is that the Mac is mute. It boots fine, it works fine, but no sound at all. I cranked up the volume via the Sound control panel, but nothing happens. I played a brickout-like game and, pressing my ear against the Mac, I could hear something, but very faintly. I’ll work on this when I have more time, after the summer holidays. The other issue was that the hard drive was not recognised at boot (the SE/30 gave me the floppy icon with the blinking question mark), but after opening the Mac, I quickly found out that the drive’s power cable was not connected to the analogue board. It was a quick fix. After closing the Mac and turning it on, the drive was instantly recognised and mounted.

And I stumbled on to another nice discovery: After Dark 2.0 is installed. Flying toasters!

After Dark

So, thank you very much Roberto, for your kindness and generosity.

7 thoughts on “A Macintosh SE/30 after dark

  1. Hi!! In 1987 my father purchased for me a marvelous computer – the Macintosh SE. At the time, it came with two options – a color monitor or a hard drive. As I recall, both the sales man and my father thought I should go with the monitor; to quote my father, “You’ll never use up all that memory!”
    I chose the hard drive, and was rewarded when a friend loaded Pagemaker onto my lovely computer. He used it for the school newspaper, as it was better then what was available to him in the computer lab!
    Loving to create things, and loving Pagemaker, I kept extensive gaming notes on my Mac, in Pagemaker. Sadly, my Image Writer 1 printer died an ugly death, and I discovered that I had relied on printing my notes on demand. For the last 20 years or so, I have periodically tried to retrieve that information, and I am curious if you have the means to print old Aldus Pagemaker files? I have given up on having my 4.5 floppies ever converted to a modern program file.
    If you can rescue my data, or at least are willing to consider the attempt (and assuming you have a few reams of that old continuous printer paper for the Image writer 1), please contact me!!

  2. Kimberly: Sorry for this late reply — I haven’t ignored your comment, mind you, I was trying to find a solution to your problem. At present I have no means to print out your material. In my (little) spare time, I’m trying to see if I can, at least, do something to read Aldus Pagemaker files and export them to something more modern. In the next days I’ll either post a follow-up comment here or contact you via email.

    Again, I apologise for not getting back at you sooner.

  3. I recently got ahold of a Mac SE converted to an SE/30 in a shipment of old Macs (I’m in computer and electronics recycling), and actually got it on the net! Running 7.5.5 and using an old 68K version of iCab, I was able to load a few pages before the entire system bombed, but I’m amazed that I was actually able to get a system that old to surf the net and connect to IRC. If that isn’t proof opf the resilience of Macs, I don’t know what is! I think it’ll be my primary IRC machine from now on, and I’ll have to explore some IM options as well…

  4. I have the same issue, also cannot boot in mode32 for more ram. If you get a chance to check that out please let me know.

  5. As soon as there are new developments, I’ll report them here. I really hope to find some time to get to the bottom of this. My SE/30 works fine overall, but this issue has been bugging me nonetheless.


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