Continuing the SE/30

does anyone know of any way to buy the license for the se/30 rom from apple and and start the production of affordable se/30 machines? except include a higher resoloution colour screen instead of the black & white one


davintosh's picture

I guess a pertinent question is why would you want to start such a project? A corolary to that would be, would there be enough of a market to make such a project worthwhile?

I don't mean this as an insult or anything, but with newer/faster hardware already on the market selling for much less than you could build such a machine (refurb eMacs are selling for $529-799) it just doesn't sound like it would be worth thte trouble. I like the SE/30 as much as the next guy, but I certainly wouldn't pay $500 for one, even with a hi-res colo(u)r screen in it.

would it really cost that much? $100 was my estimate for producing them the crt or lcd being the most expensive part. Or i could just make them on special order for collecters, it'd be like a new, old mac clone

iDweeb's picture

Hey here's an idea: Mod your own SE/30s Smile

Jon's picture

I think his idea might have involved using more modern componets that would help reduce complexity and cost. And also drive up reliability! A better video board would certainly entail a better analog section.

Eudimorphodon's picture

would it really cost that much? $100 was my estimate for producing them the crt or lcd being the most expensive part. Or i could just make them on special order for collecters, it'd be like a new, old mac clone

I'm curious where you get that price estimate.

If you were willing to invest a good, oh, probably quarter of a million dollars on the project you could easily get the circuitry for an SE/30-equivilent computer down to a custom chip or two. After all, and let's be frank, an SE/30 isn't much more complicated then a Commodore 64 or other similar technology computer, and toy companies have shrunk those down to the point that they can be sold for $20 built into a joystick. (Along with a couple megabytes of ROM-ed games.)

A better comparison might be a PDA, of course. Palm is selling ARM-based devices *much* faster then an SE/30 for $99. If you had the money to throw at the problem you could throw together a custom 68030 core + Macintosh PALs + SCSI controller chip that could be the core of a device that'd price out similarly... *if* you were able to manufacture and sell a few hundred thousand of them. Since you specifically mention "color", well, build a VGA/LCD controller into the chip so you can either offer the device headless, or find a manufacture able to sell you TV-grade 640x480 or 800x600 LCDs for cheap. (The ones that come in handheld DVD players might do.) Hitting $100 *with* a screen is going to be tough unless you can push a million of the things, but, well, good luck.

As for building them "custom" for a $100, forget it. With no investment for chip fabrication all you could do is harvest chips from existing Macintoshes and solder them to a new board. Which seems *really* pointless.


tmtomh's picture

Not to be a wet blanket or anything, but I think the real difficulty here is conceptual - in other words, there seem to be a number of alternatives that make sense and could achieve essentially the same thing. For example:

1) Cannibalize old (dead?) SE/30s, solder VGA connector cables to the analog boards, hollow out the bodies, and install internal mounting for a Mac mini. Then people could slide a mini into the unit, hook up the VGA, and have a G4-driven "SE/30". Classic Mac OS could be run via OS X's Classic environment or - for a truly retro feel - in vMac or Basilisk (under OS X, or if Basilisk has no OS X version, then under Linux). The cost would be high because it would require a $500 buy-in for the mini itself, but the "SE/30" kit itself could be offered for well under $100.

2) Do the same as above, put substitute in the guts of a 9" color VGA monitor - if one could find a decent and affordable source of such monitors.

3) Do the same as #1 above, except with a cheap mini-itx board running Basilisk II under Linux (someone has already done this, essentially, over at


catmistake's picture

I, too, am a big fan of the SE/30. But I realied that it was 2 things that attracted me. Its aesthetic design, and its potential for power at the time it was introduced. Well... the latter ship has saled... though I have an SE/30 *nix server, it is little more than a (very cool) relic.

However... if one could apply relativistically what was (potentially) great about the SE/30 in 1989 to 2006, then that would be something. To replace the insides with a well designed frame that held, gee, I don't know, 6-8 high end mobos from the PowerBook line clustered together and attached to a high-resolution flat-panel that perfectly fit the original dimensions (along with my previously mentioned "lens" idea), and with 12-16 fast notebook drives... throw in a wireless cable router and TV tuner... that would be good enough that people would desire to own it, even if it didn't have a resevoir filled with cleaning solution, a directable spray nozzle and robotic arm attached to a sponge (i.e. even if it doesn't do Windows), but I'm not sure so much so that the whole of it would be, strictly speaking, worth the sum of its parts (unless it was mass produced).

So... just how does one convince Apple they need to build thousands of these cute little media centric supercomputing clusters? Well, I think not getting committed is a step in the right direction, at least.